Tips for Staying Healthy for Brides

Health Recommendations for the Bride-to-Be

Health examinations before the wedding.
Check out these tips for being a healthy bride.

If you're planning your wedding, you're likely buried in to-do lists. But including plans to be a healthy bride is every bit as important. While, getting married is a special, exciting, and busy time that most women dream of from the time they are little girls, there is more to getting married than flowers, dresses, and saying "I do." Before you marry the love of your life, you should have a few health checks to make sure your health is in tip-top shape.

Reproductive Health

If you haven't already been getting Pap smears and gynecology exams, now is a good time to schedule a visit. All women should have a Pap smear at least every three years between the ages of 21 and 29 and either a Pap smear alone every three years or a Pap smear and HPV test (human papillomavirus test) every five years between the ages of 30 and 64. If you've had an abnormal Pap smear in the past, you may need Pap smears (or a colposcopy) more often depending on the type of abnormality that was found.

Contraception and Family Planning

Before your wedding, it's a good time to discuss your plans for either contraception or potential pregnancies. Your doctor can also help you understand the different types of birth control so that you and your partner can make the choice that is best for you. There are several questions to consider when choosing contraception that you may wish to consider, such as the importance of convenience, the effectiveness of the method, cost, and potential side effects.

Some couples choose to be childless and may decide that they desire either a tubal ligation or vasectomy, even before the marriage takes place. Other couples who have previously undergone permanent sterilization and now want to have children may wish to have either a tubal ligation or vasectomy reversal.

Genetic Testing

If certain conditions run in either of your families, such as genetic diseases like cystic fibrosis, you and/or your partner may wish to consider genetic testing. The first step is to talk with a genetic counselor, as there aren't any specific tests for some conditions, and it's important to understand the risks and benefits of tests that are available before having them done. You may have heard about the genetic tests which people can perform themselves. From reproductive tests to predisposition tests, learn about the accuracy and downsides of at-home genetic tests.

STD Testing

If either you or your partner has had previous sexual relationships, this is a good time to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases. Note that many of these diseases are asymptomatic (they will have no symptoms) until damage has been done. Pelvic inflammatory disease secondary to STDs can have a devastating effect on your future fertility, but these diseases can often be easily treated when found early.

General Health and Family History

A complete general physical exam that includes laboratory testing and a discussion about your family medical history and potential health risks is important for both you and your future spouse.

Make sure that your immunizations are up-to-date at this appointment.

Travel Preparations

If you plan to honeymoon outside the United States, you should discuss any special precautions that you may need to take. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists particular infectious diseases that may be endemic in a country or region along with any immunizations or prophylactic medications (such as for malaria) that are required.

Your Wedding Date and Your Period

What if you discover that your period is due on your wedding day or during your honeymoon? If you talk to your healthcare provider several months in advance, you may be able to use contraceptives to delay the onset of menstruation.

Your doctor can talk to you about how to skip your period using the pill, and whether this is a good option for you.

Bottom Line on Being a Healthy Bride

It's far too easy to push aside health exams amidst the bustle of wedding preparation, yet your health is the most important factor in making sure your wedding—and your future with your new spouse—goes as smoothly as possible. Talking about your health, possible plans for pregnancy, methods of contraception, and even your family history of medical conditions can be a way to practice healthy communication skills with your spouse-to-be while keeping you as physically healthy as possible.

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