Since this week is officially Men’s Health Week, this week’s Wellness Wednesday topic is focused on a topic so many people don’t actually know or think about – the important role of men and fathers in preconception health. There’s lots of data that suggests that pre-conception and pre-pregnancy health is important for men as well as women.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) has been celebrating the role of fathers in the health of their families this week via the Show Your Love campaign. Show Your Love is a national campaign designed to improve the health of women and babies by promoting preconception health and healthcare. The main goal is to increase the number of women who plan their pregnancies and engage in healthy behaviors before becoming pregnant. Even if you’re not ready to start a family, it encourages men and women to choose healthy behaviors so that they can be their best and achieve the goals and dreams they have set for their families.
Here are 5 things you should know:
- Men have an important role to play in Pre-conception/pre-pregnancy health. A man’s sperm can be changed by overall health and lifestyle. Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about infertility.
- Secondhand smoke exposure is harmful to pregnant women and to children, so quitting now is important. Get help at 1-800-QUIT-NOW
- Exposure to toxic substances and other harmful materials at work or at home, such as synthetic chemicals, metals, fertilizer, bug spray, and cat or rodent feces, can hurt the reproductive systems of men and women. They can make it more difficult for a couple to get pregnant. Exposure to even small amounts during pregnancy, infancy, childhood, or puberty can lead to certain diseases. For more info, visit https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/96-132/
- Remember to consider the family health history for both sets of parents, not just mom. If either set of parents has a family health history that includes a birth defect, developmental disability, newborn screening disorder, or genetic disease, you might be more likely to have a baby with this condition. Ask parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins about any health problems in the family.
- Certain genetic diseases are more common in certain racial and ethnic groups. Your doctor may refer you for carrier testing if you are in one of these groups. For more information on family history risks, visit https://www.cdc.gov/genomics/famhistory/famhist_plan_pregnancy.htm. Also, you can create your own family health portrait through this tool: https://familyhistory.hhs.gov/FHH/html/index.html
Finally, there is a mobile app to help with planning and preparing for pregnancy. Follow some simple steps with this app to improve preconception health. Available for: