Few takers for premarital tests

Few takers for premarital tests

Hospitals offer pre-wedding diagnostic packages, but Bengaluru couples are shying away

A character played by Ayushmann Khurrana has erectile dysfunction in the film ‘Shubh Mangal Saavdhan’.

In addition to horoscope matching, some couples in Bengaluru are going in for premarital health check-ups, but their numbers aren’t big.

Though is a common practice in the West, such tests remain rare in India, doctors say. Dr Brunda, consultant, internal medicine, Aster CMI, says the practice has picked up in the last five years, but reservations remain.

“Medically, such a check-up is not mandatory but it is becoming common as some individuals may have been sexually active before marriage,” she says.

Couples are screened for sexually transmitted diseases and hepatitis, diabetes, hypertension and heart problems.

Most couples get their tests done individually and then go for an evaluation.

“We see at least two to three couples coming to us every month,” says Brunda.  

Sometimes, a couple goes for check-ups but don’t go back to the hospital for a consultation. “They look up on the Internet if the reports aren’t too serious,” she says.

Dr Sripada Vinekar, obstetrician-gynaecologist, Apollo Hospitals, says, “People are becoming more aware now. Earlier, they used to come only after pregnancy, when a problem is detected.”

Even with all the hype created by celebrities, premarital health check-ups are not so common, she says.

“It very rare that I see couples come in voluntarily for a premarital check-up. The number is as low as one in a year,” she told Metrolife.

People are not aware health problems can be hereditary and manifest in the child, she says.

“Premarital health checkups are important to figure out whether there is any hereditary condition. You can’t change the course of the disease, but at least if you know you are a carrier, it helps you later, especially during pregnancy,” she says.

What if a partner is diagnosed with an ailment?
“We counsel the couple. It is a big decision they have to take, especially if they are going in for an arranged marriage. We take help from a special counsellor to deal with cases like this,” she says.

What they test for
BP, diabetes
Liver disorders
Genetic problems
Sexually transmitted diseases

At Aster CMI, a general health check-up package costs about Rs 4,500 and includes ECG, liver function test, and does not include screening for HIV and hepatitis B and C.

Apollo has a package that costs Rs 3,500 for men and Rs 4,200 for women.

Dr Vasan S S, CEO and medical director, Manipal Fertility, says awareness can be created if a couple goes for premarital screening.

“Compared to 15 years ago, today, both men and women have an equal ratio of infertility. Earlier women would marry and have babies before 28 but now the marriageable age has gone up because of career and education commitments. Men too have been facing infertility problems because of the environment, stress, and use of laptops and cell phones,” says Vasan.

Men are generally reluctant to undergo semen analysis to check for infertility because of the stigma associated with impotence.

It is important to undergo premarital screening to avoid conflicts later, and help couples set realistic expectations, he says. A premarital check-up can be done about six months before the wedding.

Fertility problems can be addressed early without the biological, psychological, social and emotional trauma associated with barrenness, he says.

“Any abnormal health condition in one of the partners can endanger the health of the other partner and the offspring. Thus, it is better to be completely aware of each other’s health condition before marriage,” he adds. Vasan agrees pre-marital health check-ups are not common.

“There are home sperm testing kits available online that men can use if they are apprehensive about going to a clinic,” he says.

Family angle
Doctors say it is easy to evaluate a couple if they come on their own volition, and are not forced by family. Families usually want to know about fertility, blood pressure, diabetes, hypertension.

Genetic history
Doctors take family history into account to look for genetic disorders. Blood disorders like thalassemia and sickle cell anemia are common. Gene mapping can also be done now.

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