Preconception health refers to the health of all individuals during their reproductive years, regardless of gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation. It is an approach that promotes healthy fertility and focuses on actions that individuals can take to reduce risks, promote healthy lifestyles, and increase readiness for pregnancy, whether or not they plan to have children one day.

Counselling patients on preconception health can:

  • prevent preterm births
  • improve birth weight
  • prevent congenital anomalies, including neural tube defects
  • reduce infant mortality
  • reduce maternal mortality
  • Start the conversation. During medical check-ups ask patients one key question: “Are you hoping to become pregnant in the next one to two years?”
  • Screen for risks – Using the Preconception Health Care Tool
  • Promote the following key messages to your patients:
    1. Develop a Reproductive Life Plan
      1. A reproductive life plan (RLP) is a set of personal goals about when and whether to have children.
    2. Live a Healthy Lifestyle & Protect Your Fertility
      1. If you are a person who may get pregnant, take a multivitamin with at 0.4 mg folic acid. Eat healthy, stay active & maintain a healthy weight. Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and drugs if planning a pregnancy. Reduce harmful environmental exposures.
    3. Have a Regular Check-up With Your Health Care Provider
      1. Ensure immunizations are up-to-date.
      2. Discuss family health history.
      3. Ensure any physical and mental health conditions are managed.
      4. Prevent, screen and test for STIs/HIV.
    4. Space your pregnancies
      If you are planning a subsequent pregnancy, optimally wait at least 18 months and no more than 5 years before trying to get pregnant again.