Pre-marital medical tests are only seen as useful when the couple is related by blood
CAIRO: The wedding ring, the ceremony, the flowers and the honeymoon are counted as essential wedding prerequisites. But many couples still ignore the most critical detail: The pre-marital check-ups.
“Although I heard about these pre-marital examinations, I and my fiancée refused to try them, because we thought that they won’t make any kind of difference in our relationship, says 21-year-old recently-engaged Hend Anwar.
Anwar says that even if she and her fiancée discovered that they can be carriers of a certain disease, that this won t affect their wedding plans. Thus, they found the tests useless.
Pathologist Doaa Khamis stresses the importance and usefulness of these tests. If the test results aren’t favorable, it doesn’t mean that the couple has to break up. The tests act as early detectors of any diseases the couples carry and if it might be passed to their children, and thus they would be able to take the necessary precautions or seek treatment.
“It is pivotal for any engaged couple to undergo these tests, as it enables them to be aware of their health status before marriage and alert them of any possible hereditary disease that might [pass to] their children, Khamis explains.
Khamis says that contagious diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, G6PD deficiency (destruction of blood cells associated with eating fava beans), Mediterranean anemia and heart diseases can be easily controlled through pre-marital genetic screening. Mediterranean anemia and G6PD deficiency are the most common hereditary diseases in Egypt, she adds
According to Reem Abd-El Wahab, the general manager of a pre-marital health center, the awareness of the utility of these check-ups has increased. However, the number of couples who actually undergo these examinations is quite small.
Only two or three couples may undergo these examinations per month, says Abdel Wahab, and it is observable that the couples who actually do the tests are mainly relatives.
Fatma El Hefny, a 20-year-old bride-to-be, says the only reason she underwent the test is because she is engaged to her cousin and they were afraid to have children with mental disorders.
“We would have never thought of doing these check-ups if we weren’t relatives, she notes. But after experiencing the simplicity and safety of these tests she now says that it is mandatory for each bride and groom to undergo them.
Choosing to skip these tests is a risk, El Hefny adds. Although the results might not be precise, I strongly recommend these medical check-ups for all couples. This way, she continues, they ll be aware of any possible disease that might be carried by either of them and would have a chance of treating it before the marriage.
But other than the genetic screening, which related couples undergo to ensure their children are born free of hereditary or genetic diseases, there isn’t enough motivation to encourage others to try the pre-marital tests. Khamis notes that the other reason behind the low rates of couples undergoing pre-marital test is Egypt is the relatively high costs.
Women s tests could cost more than LE 250 while men s tests cost up to LE 300, says Khamis. Therefore, some couples find the total cost of these examinations pretty high, so they start to be skeptical about it.
Rania Mohanny, a specialist in clinical pathology, says there are different kinds of pre-marital check-ups. Genetic tests examine if either of the couple is a carrier of a certain hereditary disease that might be transferred to their children. Other checkups are classified as hormonal evaluation tests that aim at evaluating the sex hormones of the couples and assess their reproductive and sexual abilities.
“Both the man and woman should undergo a blood group test, a random blood sugar test, Rh. Grouping tests and Hb [Hemoglobin] Electrophoresis test. As for the females, they should do a Toxo IgG and Toxo IgM tests, to examine if they have a certain disease transmitted through cats. Men should do a Semen Analysis in order to examine the amount and efficiency of the sperms, says Mohanny.
Ninety percent of the diseases discovered by the pre-marital check-ups, Mohanny continues, are curable, except for serious genetic diseases that, in most cases, lead to giving birth to children with disabilities.