In the era of Internet Superhighway, I often received well wishes during the season of festivities. Needless to say, on Valentine’s Day, instead of greeting cards or chocolates, I was contented having received Love Messages through what’s App. After all, there is no harm in spreading a bit of love. The day was first associated with romantic love in the circle of Chaucer High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. Of course, this has evolved to symbols of love used today including heart shaped outlines, doves and winged cupid, and of course, the messages of LOVE. “How did it happen that their lips came together? How does it happen that birds sing, that snow melts, that rose unfolds, that dawn whitens behind the stark shapes of trees on the quivering summit of the hill? A kiss, and all was said,” says Victor Hugo. But, my favorite has to be from Judy Garland: “For it was not into my ear you whisper, into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul.” “Doubt thou the stars are fire, Doubt that the sun doth move. Doubt truth to be a liar, but never doubt love.” Can we truly follow the Shakespeare advice in the 21st century to doubt nothing but “true love?” On the day after the big “day of love”, lets deal with potential risks one takes, before tranquilized by that hypnotic kiss. Dear Dr. G, My name is David and I am 28. I am madly in love with my girlfriend and I am hoping to propose on Valentine’s Day. Julie and I have been going out for three years and we love each other very much. Julie is very different from my previous girlfriends, as we talked about everything in our days ahead, including how many kids we want and how to raise them. Although we are sexually attracted to each other, we have not engaged in any sexual intimacy, as this is not in keeping with her religious beliefs. Since I am planning to get married next year, I am hoping both of us can do a pre-marital check up to ensure that we are healthy and the next generations will not be affected by any diseases. Can you please tell me where we can have such health screening? What tests can be carried out? As I have previous relationships before, what sort of sexually transmitted infections should I be screen for? Is there any vaccine of supplements we should take to ensure healthy sexual relationships in the days ahead? I really am excited and hope you can help. Regards, David. PS: Happy Valentine’s Day. Although the idea of prenuptial agreements may seem anything but romantic, changing life trends indicate such contracts are gaining popularity not just for celebrities; but also for ordinary people like us. In a Malaysian culture, an pre-marital agreement drawn up to protect each other’s assets may be a sign of mistrust for some, but for others it may appear to be a realistic arrangement. What better asset needs protections than your health? The Family Planning Association of Hong Kong (FPAHK) has even drawn up services aims to help about-to-wed couples “gain a better understanding” of their health. The argument put forward is that “the detections of early diseases that are infectious or have serious affect on the next generation, treatment can be initiated to provide safeguard for the health of the couples and the future offspring.” Indeed, with the current knowledge or human genome and in-depth understanding of genetic diseases, sophisticated identifications of genetic illnesses are completely possible and a multibillion dollar business. In fact with a simple blood tests or tissue from the oral cavities, the probabilities of all genetic defects can be worked out for you and your partners. The question is how much do you want to know? And how much of that is going to be a deterrent for you to bear children with your love one. Some may argue this is simply risk assessment, others would probably maintain this to be a “Playing God” manipulations of nature. I admit, I do have couples approaching me for “Pre-Marital Health Checks” and I have compiled a package for them to have a “snapshot” of the state of physical, reproductive and sexual health. In the physical side, a general assessment of the bodily functions can be carried out. The reproductive health can easily be screened by semen analysis, hormonal studies and simple ultrasound scans. Perhaps the most contentious tests would be the sexually transmitted infection parameters. The common sexually transmitted pathogens that a clinician would screen for include: HIV, Herpes, Syphilis, Gonorrhea and Chlamydia. Although the latter three can be completely irradiated with modern days antibiotics, viral infections such as HIV, Herpes, Hepatitis B and C can be easily transmitted through sexual intercourse and the cure for such diseases are non-existence. With the current protections available for couples, the vaccinations against Hepatitis B and HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) are probably as far as you get when it comes to protection. The Poet and civil right activist, Maya Angelou, who recited her poem at Bill Clinton’s Presidential Inauguration once said: “Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrate walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” When a couple choses to take the plunge and embark on a “Prenuptial risk assessment”; one must understand this is not just a snapshot of the current health status, it is also a haunt from the past and a glimpse into the future. So, the only question you need to ask yourselves before doing the test is “Is your true love strong enough to share each other’s diseases?” Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.