Some lab tests to consider before you say “I do”?

before I do

Everyone is excited at the mere thought of getting married after many years of fasting, praying, dating and searching for love as well as recovering from several heartbreaks. Tell me, who wouldn’t be?

The question “will you marry me?” is something most women want to hear from their men and they would just go blank in the head because it is a dream come true once this question pops up. For the men, it’s a starting point for the journey to the table of men… It’s a huge step for both people and even the families involved… Jubilations, happiness and laughter are all that we envision BUT WAIT! Let me puncture your bubble small… I won’t burst it.

Medically and socially, there are certain checks that NEED to be considered before you say yes to him or her!

As marriage is sacred and ordained by God, once it is put together no man shall put asunder. The couple must look out for these premarital laboratory investigations before getting to the altar:

1. SICKLE CELL

First of all, both need to check the sickling status to know their sickling genotypes. Its very important to know this because in the event where there is even the slightest probability, then giving birth to sickle cell children will turn a sweet marriage into a sour experience for the couple.

Sickle cell anemia is an inherited form of anemia — a condition in which there aren’t enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen throughout your body.

Normally, your red blood cells are flexible and round, moving easily through your blood vessels. In sickle cell anemia, the red blood cells become rigid and sticky and are shaped like sickles or crescent moons. These irregularly shaped cells can get stuck in small blood vessels, which can slow or block blood flow and oxygen to parts of the body.

I will try to simplify the results you get here so that you can make informed choices.

The commonest Sickling Genotypes are AA, AS, SS . The AA is Sickling Negative and AS & SS are Sickling Positive but AS is a Carrier whilst SS is said to be having Sickle Cell Disease/Anaemia.

Signs and symptoms of sickle cell anemia, which vary from person to person and change over time, include:

  • Sickle cells break apart easily and die, leaving you without enough red blood cells. Red blood cells usually live for about 120 days before they need to be replaced. But sickle cells usually die in 10 to 20 days, leaving a shortage of red blood cells (anemia).

Without enough red blood cells, your body can’t get the oxygen it needs to feel energized, causing fatigue.

  • Episodes of pain. Periodic episodes of pain, called crises, are a major symptom of sickle cell anemia. Pain develops when sickle-shaped red blood cells block blood flow through tiny blood vessels to your chest, abdomen and joints. Pain can also occur in your bones.

The pain varies in intensity and can last for a few hours to a few weeks. Some people have only a few pain episodes. Others have a dozen or more crises a year. If a crisis is severe enough, you might need to be hospitalized.

Some adolescents and adults with sickle cell anemia also have chronic pain, which can result from bone and joint damage, ulcers and other causes.

  • Painful swelling of hands and feet. The swelling is caused by sickle-shaped red blood cells blocking blood flow to the hands and feet.
  • Frequent infections. Sickle cells can damage an organ that fights infection (spleen), leaving you more vulnerable to infections. Doctors commonly give infants and children with sickle cell anemia vaccinations and antibiotics to prevent potentially life-threatening infections, such as pneumonia.
  • Delayed growth. Red blood cells provide your body with the oxygen and nutrients you need for growth. A shortage of healthy red blood cells can slow growth in infants and children and delay puberty in teenagers.
  • Vision problems. Tiny blood vessels that supply your eyes may become plugged with sickle cells. This can damage the retina — the portion of the eye that processes visual images, leading to vision problems.

Summary

  1. If your Sickle cell Genotype is AS then your partner MUST be AA
  2. If your Sickling Genotype is AA then you can marry any other Genotype

Sickle cell Disease in any child or adult puts pressure on the person or parents financially and socially, it impacts productivity because if it’s not well managed, a lot of time is spent in the hospital. So check your sickling genotype today.

2. RHESUS FACTOR

Secondly, it is important to know one’s rhesus factor, as well as Blood type. It is the negative or Positive attached to your blood type when you check at the lab. Eg O+ ,A+, AB- etc

Your rhesus factor is fixed by your genes. If you’re rhesus positive (RhD positive), it means that a protein (D antigen) is found on the surface of your red blood cells. If you do not have the D antigen, you will be rhesus negative (RhD negative). Most people are rhesus positive.

It becomes very significant when the woman is rhesus negative and the man is rhesus positive. This can lead to Rhesus incompatibility. Rhesus disease is a condition where antibodies in a Rhesus negative pregnant woman’s blood destroy her Rhesus positive baby’s blood cells. It’s also known as haemolytic disease of the foetus and newborn (HDFN) which can even kill the baby in the womb.

Rhesus disease doesn’t harm the mother, but it can cause the baby to become anaemic and develop jaundice or even cause recurrent spontaneous miscarriages.

So when someone gets pregnant and loses her pregnancy every time, then it may not be the work of the hometown witches but maybe because She is Rhesus Negative and the Guy is Positive.

This is not all gloomy though because medically, there are ways of medically managing such a situation so one needs to talk to the doctor the woman finds she is Rhesus negative.

3. HEPATITIS B

I don’t need to overly talk about this because the information is all over. If you have tested Negative, Please ensure that you vaccinate.

Hepatitis B is an infectious hepatitis caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). This infection has two possible phases; 1) acute and 2) chronic.

  1. Acute hepatitis B refers to newly acquired infections. Affected individuals notice symptoms approximately 1 to 4 months after exposure to the virus. In most people with acute hepatitis, symptoms resolve over weeks to months and they are cured of the infection. However, a small number of people develop a very severe, life-threatening form of acute hepatitis called fulminant hepatitis.
  2. Chronic hepatitis B is an infection with HBV that lasts longer than 6 months. Once the infection becomes chronic, it may never go away completely.

People who are at an increased risk of being infected with the hepatitis B virus include the following:

  • Men or women who have multiple sex partners, especially if they don’t use a condom
  • Men who have sex with men
  • Men or women who have sex with a person infected with hepatitis B virus
  • People with other sexually transmitted diseases
  • People with HIV or hepatitis C
  • People who inject drugs with shared needles
  • People who receive organ transplants or transfusions of blood or blood products (exceedingly rare these days)
  • People who undergo dialysis for kidney disease
  • Institutionalized mentally handicapped people and their attendants, caregivers, and family members
  • Health care workers who are stuck with needles or other sharp instruments contaminated with infected blood
  • Infants born to infected mothers
  • People born outside the United States in areas where hepatitis B is common
  • People who travel to areas of the world where hepatitis B is common
  • In some cases, the source of transmission is never known.

4. G6PD

Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency is an inherited condition in which people don’t produce enough of the G6PD enzyme which is involved in preventing red blood cells from bursting (aka hemolysis) when exposed to certain substances in the blood.

This hemolysis leads to anemia, jaundice (yellowing of the skin), rapid heart rate, and shortness of breath. I have written more to explain this topic here and you can find 7 things to avoid here if you are G6PD Deficient.

These are just a few of the important things to Check before you get married. There are others, however, so make sure you talk to your doctor so that you don’t end up regretting that you even got married.

Happy and healthy marriage life to you from MaPomDen.com[My Health, My Wealth] and Staff!

By Dr Frank Dartey Amankonah (Medical Doctor)

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