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Health check before Marriage
Dr Zehratul Quresh
Marriage, an auspicious occasion in one’s life, is preceded by innumerable enquires regarding family, background, caste, race, occupation, etc., and not to forget the compatibility of couples and their families.

Advances in medicine, and more so in medical awareness, has made us acutely conscious to know more about our would-be spouse’s health and their family’s health and well being. People today have taken a step forward in helping out their physicians or family doctors, by going through screening procedures, and regular health checks even when they feel completely healthy, in order to take up preventive measures and adopt the required lifestyle changes to attain and maintain a healthier and happier life.

The basic idea behind getting a health check before marriage is to rule out the factors, deficiencies or diseases that may interfere with a happy married life. The battery of tests that are included in this category are aimed and designed in a manner to benefit both the partners and safeguard their interests.

Generally, the parameters that are tested before marriage are either genetic disorders that run in families, or acquired diseases which are more or less infectious, and spread from person to person.
Screening for genetic or inherited diseases Genetic diseases that are passed on to the offspring may or may not be evident physically. What we need to test are those that are not manifested, as one can be a carrier of the gene that may be passed on to the next generation. Most genetic diseases are carried forward by mothers, as females can be silent carriers without showing symptoms of the disease. But when this gene is passed on to the male child, it may be deleterious. These are known as ‘X’ linked diseases.

There are also a few genetic disorders found among certain populations and ethnic groups, such as thalassemia (type of anemia), which needs repetitive blood transfusions, more often seen amongst the Sindhis and in the north western belt of India. Most diseases involving the blood, including blood cancers, may be screened by a simple blood test i.e Complete Blood Picture or hemogram. Diabetes mellitus is another common disease that runs in families, especially the young, also known as the juvenile diabetes, which strikes at a young age of below 20 years.
Screening for communicable diseases This category comprises mainly of sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s), which can be checked through a panel of blood tests, tests for viruses etc.
Screening for infertility Impotency and or infertility (inability to conceive) play a vital role in the consummation and success of marital relationship. An initial work up consisting of hormone analysis and semen analysis may be recommended, for screening infertility.
Screening for blood group incompatibility Although there is a rare possibility for incompatibility between couples due to dissimilar blood groups, a factor known as the ‘Rh’ may be of concern, as women who bear a negative ‘Rh’ factor in their blood may be incompatible with men with a positive ‘Rh’ blood group during child birth, in the sense that it may lead to miscarriages. This can be tested during regular blood group test. Although medical science has advanced to a level adequate to eliminate these differences, and cornered down incompatibility to a great extent, it is advisable for couples to implement health checks, which may prepare them and their family to know the risk factors and prevent disease.

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