Medical issues are a casualty of life – some preventable and others treatable and controllable. When trying to conceive (TTC), preconception health is crucial for women facing medical issues, especially if medication is needed to control symptoms of the condition.
Medical conditions associated with obesity, tobacco consumption, alcohol consumption and use of street drugs are preventable. Before trying to conceive, work with your physician to lose weight, quit smoking, minimize alcohol intake and quit taking illegal or street drugs. Even marijuana, though legal in some states, can affect fertility, pregnancy and fetal health.
Treatable and Controllable
The majority of preconception medical issues will fall into this category. Treatable medical issues range from food allergies to seasonal allergies, epilepsy to depression. Your doctor will work with you to find a treatment protocol that is safe for continuation after conception. This could mean changing the medications you have taken for years, but some medications that successfully relieve symptoms can cause birth defects or increase risk of spontaneous miscarriage or stillbirth.
Changing treatment protocol can take time – sometimes many months – so tell your prescribing physician(s) and obstetricians about your desire to conceive at least one year before TTC.
No Alternative Treatment
There are many prescription medications that are contraindicated in pregnancy. These same medications are often contraindicated when TTC. If there is no alternative treatment for your medical condition, your doctor will discuss the potential fetal and pregnancy risks associated with the drug or medical condition. Medications contraindicated when TTC are prescribed for:
- Cardiovascular Conditions
- Central Nervous System Conditions
- Skin Disorders
- Endocrine Conditions
- Gastrointestinal Disorders
- Metabolic Conditions
- Musculoskeletal Conditions
- Hormone Disorders
- Birth Control
The Importance of the Preconception Appointment
As soon as you start thinking about TTC, make an appointment with your gynecologist or an obstetrician. Be prepared for the appointment with a complete medical history that includes a list of all previous prescription medications you have taken (that you can remember). Your family physician or pharmacy can help fill in the blanks with prior medical records. List all current and past medical issues. Knowing your medical history and current medical condition is crucial when preparing for safe conception and pregnancy.
You will also need a medical history and medication list for your partner. Some medications and medical issues can impair male fertility, others can cause sterility. Your partner may be asked to complete a semen analysis prior to TTC if there is something in his medical history that could indicate sterility or impaired fertility such as testicular injury or cancer treatment.