Happy Friday From Béa!

Every week, our fertility experts offer practical, evidence-based suggestions for people planning a pregnancy. Our aim is to empower you with the education and expert advice you need for the smoothest possible conception experience. Our promise is to provide content that is always actionable, so that you can shape your journey at your own pace, from your own home.
Your experience can help other readers! In June, we’ll be focusing on contraception and fertility, and we’d like to hear your stories about stopping contraception in preparation for starting a family. If you’d like to share your experience, simply reply to this email and our team will get in touch.

Topic of the Week
Preconception Health Checks

In some countries, the process of planning to get pregnant starts with a visit to your doctor or gynaecologist for a health checkup. In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone schedule a preconception checkup to review your vaccinations, current medications, diet and lifestyle. However, the NHS doesn’t specifically encourage you to visit your GP before trying to get pregnant, so it is up to you to make this plan yourself and seek help from a clinician when needed.

It can be worth a visit to your GP regardless of your health status, but it’s especially important if any of the following apply:

It has been over 3 years since your last cervical smear.
Regular cervical smears lower your chances of developing cervical cancer, so it’s great to be up to date on smear tests. The NHS recommends routine smear tests every 3 years although you may be asked to attend more frequently if you’ve had an abnormal smear previously. Although it is safe to have a smear test when pregnant, it isn’t usually recommended as pregnancy makes the results harder to interpret. It’s better to perform the test before any pregnancy, so you can be treated if any cellular changes are detected in the cervix.

You haven’t had your rubella vaccine (or you’re not sure).
The rubella vaccine is offered to every child in the UK as part of the MMR vaccine. If you did not have one or are not sure, be sure to visit your GP to discuss testing your immunity or getting vaccinated, because infection with rubella can harm developing babies during pregnancy. Rubella vaccines are offered free on the NHS. You should wait for 1 month after your rubella vaccination before attempting to get pregnant.

You haven’t had your COVID-19 vaccine.
If you are planning to get pregnant, you should get vaccinated as soon as possible. There is no evidence that any of the vaccinations against the coronavirus have any effect on fertility, but there is strong evidence that having COVID-19 during a pregnancy can put your health at risk in addition to your baby’s. You can read more about getting the Covid vaccines and before and during pregnancy as well as book an appointment on the NHS website.

You have any medical conditions that could impact your health during pregnancy.
If you have a long-term condition like diabetes, epilepsy or HIV, make sure to speak with your GP for advice before trying to conceive. You should also visit your GP if you have a known genetic condition where there is a risk of passing it on to your baby.

You regularly take medication or drugs.
Some prescription, over-the-counter or even herbal medicines can interfere with your fertility or could affect your unborn baby. The NHS has a handy guide to help you get started, but you should discuss any medications you are taking with your GP or a pharmacist so they can offer you appropriate advice.

What do I need to do if I’m the one providing sperm?
If you’re planning to start trying to conceive and are the person providing the sperm you may want to visit your GP if you are taking medication and aren’t sure whether it could affect your fertility or if you have a known genetic condition or genetic condition/s that run in your family.

What to Do Next
Planning for a Preconception Appointment

Check to make sure you are up to date on the vaccinations and tests listed above. If you’re not sure, schedule an appointment with your GP.

If you’re 35+, have been trying for close to a year, or if you or your partner have a condition that can be associated with reduced fertility.
You s
hould schedule an appointment with your GP as soon as possible. You may be eligible for further fertility assessments already. Before you go, check out our guide to accessing treatment on the NHS.
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How to prepare for a preconception GP visit.
If you do make an appointment with your GP, it’s best to come prepared since GPs do not regularly conduct preconception appointments. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has guidelines for clinicians for preconception visits, which you can bring to your GP to discuss along with your specific concerns. Remember, GP visits are short, so if you have specific questions you want to ask write them down so you don’t forget on the day.

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Further Reading
Here are the best links for your weekend sofa time.

Have a wonderful weekend. If you catch yourself thinking of us before next Friday, reply to this email and let us know what you thought of our newsletter this week.

See you next Friday!

Our newsletters are written by our fantastic medical team
Dr. Louise, MBChB
Sandy, Embryologist
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