Preconception health refers to the health of women and men during their reproductive years. The reproductive years are the years of life in which males and females can have a child. Preconception health focuses on taking steps now in order to protect the health of a baby that a person may have sometime in the future. However, all men and women can benefit from taking steps now to improve their health--regardless of whether or not they plan to have a baby someday. Preconception health is, in part, about staying healthy throughout all of a person's life.
One reason to consider making changes in your life to improve your health today is to make sure you are healthy for the time in your life when you are ready to have a baby. However, many pregnancies are unplanned--in fact, about half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned. Taking steps today to improve your health helps to improve the birth outcome for your unborn child--whenever that may be.
There are many different parts to preconception health care. Preconception health care includes routine check-ups with your doctor or primary medical provider, proper nutrition and diet to include important vitamins and minerals (such as folic acid, calcium, iron, and essential fatty acids like omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids), regular physical activity to maintain a healthy weight and optimal well-being, avoiding toxic substances and environmental contaminants, among other aspects of health. Talking with your doctor or primary care provider is one of the first steps to determining your unique needs to maintain a healthy lifestyle whether you are a man or a women--and regardless of whether you are planning to have a child in the near future, plan to wait a few years before conceiving, or have no plans to raise a child at this time.