Before Pregnancy: STD and Genetic Testing

STD Testing

While parenting partners who are preparing for pregnancy may have spent some significant time getting to know one another – and may feel very comfortable with one another – there is no substitute for making sure that both partners have had a full set of STD and genetic testing done.  Assuming that both partners have been sexually active before coming together for the conception process, each should insist that the other have a full pre-insemination screening. Even if it has been several years since one’s last sexual partner, STDs may exist without symptoms for very long periods of time. It is always better to be safe than sorry!

What are the types of STD screenings that should be done?  Tests should include:

Chlamydia testing

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) antibody testing

Gonorrhea testing

Hepatitis B surface antigen

Hepatitis B core antibody

Hepatitis C viral antibody

HIV antibody (HIV is the virus that causes AIDS)

HTLV-1 antibody

Syphilis testing (RPR test)

Genetic Testing

In addition to STD testing, some parenting partners should be screened to see if they are genetic carriers of certain types of diseases that may pass on to their child. While there are dozens of diseases for which one might be a genetic carrier, few of them occur with enough frequency that they are commonly tested for.  For example, a disease with a one-in-100,000 possibility of carrying is unlikely to be commonly tested.

Furthermore, many such genetic-acquired diseases only occur if BOTH partners pass on the genetic condition.  In other words, these genes are “recessive” and do not lead to disease if the genetic condition is only acquired from one parent – and therefore, if only one of the two parenting partners harbors the gene, it will not lead to disease in their child.

You should inquire with your doctor as to whether your family origin suggests you should be tested for certain carrier genes that can lead to disease in your children.  However, here are some of the most common genetic diseases that are tested for:

Cystic Fibrosis

Spinal Muscular Atrophy

Canavan Disease*

Fanconi Anemia*

Gaucher Disease*

Niemann-Pick Disease*

Tay-Sachs Disease*

Sickle Cell Disease**


* Recommended for those of Ashkenazi Jewish origin

** Recommended for those of African-American origin

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