Whether you just got engaged or are in the midst of planning your wedding, the last thing you need is another item on your to-do list. Your schedule is probably jam-packed with meetings with wedding planners, venue coordinators, DJs or bands, florists, and catering companies. But there's one more appointment you might want to consider adding to your planner: one with your doctor. Experts agree it's important to address your overall health before getting married.
"Planning a wedding can be stressful and once you are busy with plans and then the honeymoon and newlywed life it can be easy to put your health on the backburner," says Kristine Arthur, M.D., internist at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California. "Scheduling a check-up before the wedding process begins will help you stay your healthiest through the stressful process." If your wedding is on the horizon, here are a few health checks experts recommended you have before walking down the aisle.
Know Your Vitals
Is your weight at a healthy number? What about your cholesterol and blood pressure? When you're planning a wedding, there are so many opportunities to celebrate. This means a lot more food and alcoholic beverages than you might be used to normally. "Knowing your numbers ahead of time can help you keep an eye on your weight so that you know if you're overdoing it," says Dr. Arthur.
It's important to get a general physical to be sure you're up-to-date on basic things like vaccines, PAP smears, mammograms, cancer screenings, and other preventative tests, explains Dr. Arthur. "It can be easy to let a few years go by without addressing these issues and they are relatively simple to do." If you don't have your annual appointment on your calendar, call your doctor to schedule it ASAP—that way, you can continue with wedding planning knowing you're basic health is taken care of.
Knowing you and your partner are free of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is important as you enter your marriage. "You'll not only want to avoid the risk of disease transmission to your partner, but you need to know this for fertility and health of any future children, too," says Dawne Kort, M.D., attending physician at CityMD. "The other important thing to note is that some STIs can be present without symptoms, which means that you can be carrying a disease without knowing it." A quick trip to a local clinic or your doctor's office for testing can help your chances of good health in the long run.
Experts recommend a visit to the gynecologist to discuss contraception plans. "Whether you are currently taking birth control, or plan on starting or stopping it around the time of your wedding, a discussion with your partner and your gynecologist can be helpful," says Dr. Kort. "Also worth discussing during your visit are things that may affect birth control, like alcohol, prescription medicines, and traveling."
If you and your partner have already established an interest in having children after the wedding, you may want to consider discussing your future family plans with your doctor. "Even if you think there is even a small chance you may, you don't necessarily need to do any special type of fertility testing but it is important to review your medical history with your doctor to see if you are at higher risk for infertility or complications with pregnancy," says Dr. Arthur. This is for true for both men and women, she adds. "Many conditions are treatable today and most couples are able to have successful pregnancies."
Depending on your family history, your doctor might advise you to have certain cancer screenings even earlier than the recommended age. "There are many cancers with genetic predispositions and early detection can be life-saving," says Dr. Kort. He suggests having a conversation about your family history with your doctor at your annual check-up so he or she can help determine if any screening tests may be necessary.