Your genes are responsible for what you are. Genes determine everything about a person, ranging from their skin tone to their hair colour and their personality. However, genes also determine whether you will suffer from allergies. Similarly, your genes will predispose you to a number of conditions and disorders.
Undergoing genetic tests reveal hereditary conditions or the predisposition to diseases. This process of testing is genetic counselling.
What is genetic counselling?
Genetic counselling is a process through which doctors determine genetic predisposition to certain diseases in a person. However, a counsellor does not merely determine the risk of diseases but also helps deal with the emotional aspect of genetic testing.
When is genetic counselling important?
Even though you can undergo genetic counselling at any time, most people prefer to visit a genetic counsellor under two circumstances. They are-
• While planning to get pregnant
• If an immediate blood relative is diagnosed with cancer or another disease. Genetic counselling at such a stage will reveal whether you suffer from chances of the same disease as well.
Some other reasons to undergo genetic counselling include-
• Repeated miscarriages, which could be a result of hereditary disorders
• A mother may undergo the test if her previous child suffers from genetic disorders and she wants to determine whether her next child will suffer from the same risks.
Genetic counselling and gynaecology:
Genetic counselling is vital in the field of gynaecology. It not only helps determine risks to the unborn child but can also help screen against a number of diseases. For instance, genetic counselling can reveal your likelihood of suffering from uterine, ovarian and breast cancer.
Based on the observation of the tests, your doctor will ask you to undergo regular screening tests for these cancers. This aids in the early detection of cancer, which maximizes the effectiveness of cancer treatments.
What to expect during genetic counselling?
The aim of genetic testing is to provide information about any genetic predisposition to diseases. This is highly useful while planning to have a child. Here are some things that you will need to do during such a counselling session-
• Talk about family and common illnesses suffered by members of the family
• Learn how a condition affects the body and is inherited from relatives
• Understanding what tests help diagnose these hereditary conditions
• Learning how to manage and prevent a particular disease.
Remember that genetic counsellors act as psychologists as well, who can guide you through a difficult diagnosis.