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Preconception Health and Reproductive Life Plan

One of the Title X Family Planning Program Priorities is: Emphasizing the importance of discussing a reproductive life plan with all family planning clients, and providing preconception health services as a part of family planning services, as appropriate.

Preconception health refers to the health of women and men during their reproductive years. The term preconception describes any time that a woman of reproductive potential is not pregnant but at risk for becoming pregnant, or when a man is at risk for getting someone pregnant.

Preconception health care services for women aim to identify and modify biomedical, behavioral, and social risks to a woman’s health or pregnancy outcomes through prevention and management. Preconception health services are an important component of family planning services. Preconception health services are also important because they contribute to improvement of women’s and men’s health, and can also influence an individual’s ability to conceive or to reduce pregnancy-related adverse outcomes such as low birth weight, premature birth, and infant mortality and have a healthy birth outcome.

A reproductive life plan outlines personal goals about becoming pregnant.  Questions can include “Do you want to have (more) children?” or “How many (more) children would you like to have and when?”  For clients whose initial reason for coming to the service site was not related to preventing or achieving pregnancy, adding questions about reproductive life plan may help identify unmet reproductive health care needs.  Identifying a need for contraceptive services may be particularly important given the high rate of unintended pregnancy in the United States.

Many national organizations have worked to develop the Preconception Health and Health Care Resource Center. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) runs a national campaign called Show Your Love to increase the number of women who plan their pregnancies and engage in healthy behaviors before becoming pregnant.  The campaign includes educational resources such as videos in English and Spanish that can be played in clinic waiting rooms.