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Premarital Health Screening Singapore

Premarital Check

Marriage is a remarkable milestone in a couple’s life. As you usher in a new stage of life together, you will inevitably be overwhelmed by the never-ending list of to-dos in preparation for the big day itself. 

A premarital check-up would come in handy if you are planning to start a family. It is a comprehensive health assessment in which couples are tested for infectious and genetic diseases that may be transmitted to each other and their children.

Why is a premarital check-up important?

Premarital health screenings help couples identify potential or existing health problems and risks to themselves and possibly their children. These assessments aim to help couples understand their genetics. With an in-depth awareness of each other’s health status and how it can affect the relationship, safeguards can be put in place and necessary precautions taken to mitigate the consequences.

Health issues do not purely arise from your lifestyle. Family background and hereditary factors, too, contribute to the bigger picture. 

What does a premarital screening in Singapore check for?

In Singapore, premarital check-ups include a suite of tests.

The first of which is a test for infectious transmissible diseases including sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV. Infectious diseases like hepatitis B and HIV can be life-threatening. 


Syphilis is a bacterial infection usually transmitted through sexual intercourse. It typically starts as a painless sore on the genitals, rectum, or mouth. Patients with this condition may not think much about it because the bacteria can remain dormant in the body for decades after the initial infection, before becoming active again.

Syphilis can be cured if detected early. But without treatment, it can severely damage the heart, brain, or other essential organs. As much as it is detrimental to the individual, it can also be equally detrimental to your unborn child. Syphilis can put expectant mothers at increased risk of miscarriage or stillbirth, or can be the cause of your newborn’s death within a few days after birth.

There is currently no vaccine for syphilis, which makes it all the more important that married-couples-to-be get tested.

Hepatitis B 

In Singapore, 6% of the population are hepatitis B carriers, making it the most common hepatitis virus here. Hepatitis B virus (HBV) can cause chronic liver infection, putting these patients at high risk of death by cirrhosis and liver cancer. HBV can be transmitted during unprotected sex and thereafter transmitted from infected mothers to their babies at the time of birth or shortly after birth.

These infections are generally asymptomatic and incidentally discovered during health screening, screening prior to vaccination, or during blood donation. Although there are available treatments for HBV, a safe and effective vaccine that offers 98% to 100% is available. The vaccine is administered at the time of 0, 1, and 6 months, only if the baby is non-immune to and not a carrier of HBV.

Hepatitis C

Similar to HBV, hepatitis C virus (HCV) can cause acute liver infection. 

HCV can be transmitted via promiscuous sexual activity. Symptoms generally do not appear until advanced liver damage has occurred. These signs are symptoms of liver cirrhosis and can include swelling of the abdomen, jaundice, deterioration of mental state, vomiting blood, or passing out altered blood in the stools.

Expectant mothers with HCV cannot undergo treatment as it may be harmful for the baby. However, the child should be tested for antibodies against HCV once he reaches 1 year of age.


HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, is a condition that attacks your immune system, weakening your body’s natural ability to defend against everyday infections and diseases. A severely weakened immune system puts you at risk of contracting potentially life-threatening infections and illnesses. You would not want to pass it to your spouse nor contract it from your partner.

There is currently no cure for HIV, but there are very effective treatments that enable patients to live a long and healthy life. However, HIV is heavily transmissible. The most common way of contracting HIV is through unprotected sex, or from mothers to children during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding. 

Genetic tests

Depending on your family history and ancestry, different tests may be ordered for different disorders. These tests are especially important to ‘consanguineous marriages’ or relationships by common ancestry or blood. Such marriages come with an increased risk of their offsprings inheriting a recessive allele for a disease. 

Genetic blood diseases, such as sickle-cell, anaemia, and thalassemia, can be transmitted through the parenteral route. To diagnose a genetic blood disease would require analysing small samples of blood or body tissue. 


Thalassemia is one of the genetic blood disorders that children can inherit from their parents. When thalassemia is referred to as “alpha” or “beta”, it refers to the part of the haemoglobin that is absent. If either part is absent, there will not be sufficient building blocks to produce healthy amounts of haemoglobin.

Children inherit thalassemia from their parents. One who has inherited a thalassemia minor is healthy and can lead a normal life. In fact, most people with thalassemia minor are unaware that they have the condition. 

Thalassemia major, on the other hand, is a severe form of anaemia. Infected children may look normal at birth but will develop severe anaemia within one to two years. This will, in turn, affect development and shorten lifespan. Presently, the only cure for thalassemia major is a bone marrow transplant.

How do we test for these diseases?

To test for the aforementioned diseases, a premarital check-up usually includes blood tests, genetic diseases test, and HIV testing.

Blood tests aim to detect any underlying disorder and condition that may lead to risky pregnancies. Genetic diseases tests will give couples an insight into the chances of their children inheriting any medical condition. HIV testings will allow couples to understand each other’s sexual health, and better protect themselves should the need arise.

Beyond the medical examinations, you may also undergo a pelvic examination and fertility test to get a clearer idea of your chance of getting pregnant.

All these tests aim to give couples ample information to make informed decisions when it comes to their family planning.

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