The importance of preconception health for fertility and a child’s future

Fertility Week header
  18 October 2018  Your Fertility   |   Third party content – view disclaimer

Fertility Week 2018 runs from 15–21 October. This year’s message, Healthy You, Healthy Baby, encourages men and women to consider their health before conception to improve their chance of conceiving, and to do their best for their baby’s future health.

It has been known for some time that the general environment of a uterus can cause epigenetic changes to a foetus, but there is now growing evidence that the health of both parents before and at the time of conception influences their chance of conceiving, and the short and long-term health of their child.  

The environment where eggs and sperm mature and the composition of the fluid in the fallopian tube when fertilisation takes place are affected by parents’ general health. So, in addition to the genetic material parents contribute to their children, the health of their eggs and sperm health at the time of maturation and conception has lasting effects on the expression of the genes and the health of the future child.

Obesity, smoking, environmental toxins, alcohol, drugs, lack of physical activity and poor nutrition all pose risks to the health of egg and sperm and consequently to the health of a future child. Chronic health conditions such as diabetes and hypertension can also adversely affect gamete health. 

Whether they are actively trying for a baby or not, people of reproductive age can potentially conceive any time. This is why preconception health messages should be raised opportunistically with women and men of reproductive age whenever possible wherever appropriate. 

Time-poor primary healthcare providers can direct their patients to the new Your Fertility website where they will find evidence-based, up-to-date, accessible information about all aspects of reproductive health. Resources comprise videos from experts, including practice nurse Samantha Read who specialises in sexual and reproductive health, facts sheets and messages tailored for both men and women. 

Your Fertility

Your Fertility is a government-funded national fertility health promotion program that improves awareness among people of reproductive age and health and education professionals about potentially modifiable factors that affect fertility and reproductive outcomes. 

Disclaimer: This article was provided by Your Fertility. While every effort has been made to ensure the information is accurate, North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network does not warrant or represent the accuracy, currency and completeness of any information or material included within.