Checkups should be a top priority
When that long-awaited wedding proposal finally comes and you are both blissfully happy, your mind is usually filled with the all-consuming task of planning the wedding and health checkups are often not a top priority.
But many health consultants are suggesting it should be. Hospitals and the Family Planning Association have been promoting premarital health testing for several years now.
Educating couples on health issues that could arise when starting a family is a key component of this service, says a spokesman at the Adventist Hospital, which offers premarital health checks to couples.
'Diseases can be detected in their early or asymptomatic stage, especially diseases that are infectious in nature or have grave consequences to their newborn,' says Dr Kenneth Ho Kai-chi, a general practitioner at the Adventist Hospital.
'Treatment can start at an early stage and safeguard the health of the couples and their future offspring.'
Ho says that, ideally, the checkup should be carried out six months before marriage so that any problems found can be addressed or in the worst case scenario, the marriage can be postponed until the problem is completely taken care of.
'I didn't opt for the premarital health checkup,' says Chow Kwok-wang, who married his long-time girlfriend early this year.
'I think health did not factor into my decision as to whether or not I want to marry my girlfriend; I would marry her anyway.
'It's a pregnancy concern, so we decided to wait until we want to start a family.'
Although many couples still do wait until they want to have children, obstetrician Dr Alexander Doo, of The Women's Clinic and Matilda Hospital, says that more couples in Hong Kong are now opting for premarital checkups.
'It is a good idea for couples to assess their general health status, especially focusing on fertility, hereditary diseases and infections,' he says. 'Hong Kong couples need to test for such genetic illnesses as thalassemia and make sure that both parties are not carriers, as they can pass it down to their children.'
The Family Planning Association says thalassemia, a blood disorder that affects the body's ability to produce haemoglobin and can cause anaemia, affects 8.5 per cent of the Hong Kong Chinese population, a higher percentage than in other parts of the world.
Ho says a typical premarital consultation covers contraception, sexually transmitted diseases and family planning. Fertility tests and a general health check to both parties are also performed.
Measure body weight and blood pressure
Other tailor-made tests include
HIV antibody test
Hysterosalpingogram (an X-ray to investigate the shape of the uterine cavity and the shape and patency of the fallopian tubes)
ECG, lipid profile