What is Genetic Counseling? Purpose and Preparation


There can be a number of health conditions that may run in families, these are referred to as ‘genetic’ or hereditary conditions. similarly, if your grandparents or parents have had a serious health condition, you may want to know if you are at an increased risk of that disease. Or else, you may want to know if you could pass along a hereditary disease to your baby. In this article, we will be discussing all genetic counseling.

genetic counseling

In This Article:

All You Need to Know about Genetic Counseling

Genetic counseling basically involves talking about a genetic condition with a health professional who is qualified in both genetics and counseling. Genetic conditions may be inherited from one or both parents and can be caused by changes or mistakes in genes. Thus, a genetic counseling session will help people with a better understanding of the impact that a genetic condition may have on their lives.

When to Get Genetic Counseling?

You might think of getting genetic counseling if you are worried about your baby being born with a birth defect that your other family members have been affected by.


Another case is if your parents or other relatives have a certain health issue like cancer. So, whether you carry the genes or not that can lead to these conditions, will be revealed by genetic testing.

You may look forward to genetic counseling if:

  • You are curious about the family’s history of genetic conditions.
  • Seeking information on how genetic testing is done.
  • You plan to have a baby and warn to learn about screening for genetic conditions.
  • A mother who earlier had a baby with a birth defect and is now concerned about it happening again.
  • You are looking for screening information about genetic conditions common in specific ethnic groups like sickle-cell anemia among African-Americans.

Read More: 11 Must Know Tips to Prevent Birth Defects During Pregnancy

How can You Prepare for Your Appointment?

You can begin by collecting the medical histories of your grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles and siblings, which includes:

  • Ages at which relatives died
  • Ages at which relatives were diagnosed with a particular condition.
  • Medical conditions of your relatives
  • Information about birth defects in your family.
  • Information about your personal medical history.
  • You can write down any questions that you would want to ask.

Read More: 25 Things to Avoid During Pregnancy

Is Genetic Counselling Different from Genetic Testing?

Yes. Genetic counseling is different from genetic testing as it involves your doctor doing tests in case you have symptoms or a family history of a genetic condition. You can also get to know about the likelihood of your passing a genetic condition to your baby.


Also, diagnostic tests may also be a part of your pregnancy check ups and scans in order to find out if your baby has a genetic condition. Amniocentesis, chorionic villus sampling or CVS are some of these tests.

Will the Insurance Pay for it?

Yes, in many cases, insurance does pay for it. however, it is important for you to first make sure of your insurance company.

Where will the Counseling Take Place?

Genetic counselors work in a hospital or clinic. They may also work in public health departments, universities, laboratories, and other educational institutions. Listed below are a few areas they specialize in:

  • Cancer
  • Infertility
  • Paediatrics
  • Hematology
  • Fetal intervention and therapy
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Cardiovascular health
  • Prenatal health
  • Personalized health

Read More: 13 Dangerous Infections During Pregnancy That Affect the Baby


What to Expect in a Genetic Counselling Session?

A genetic counseling session is combined with a number of elements:

  • Finding out about what tests are available.
  • Organizing genetic tests
  • Learning what support and sources exist
  • Talking about your family and any illnesses or conditions that are common in it
  • Learning what support and sources exist
  • Talking about how to manage and prevent the condition

What to Expect after the Appointment?

You will be given written information relevant to your family history and any genetic testing options discussed by your genetic counselor. Also, there are situations when you or your family member may qualify for research and screening studies.

If you choose genetic testing, your counselor will help you with all the necessary details and when the results are available, he/she can review them with you. a copy of the test report with a summary explain the results will be given to you.

Read More: 7 Tips to Prevent Birth Defects During Pregnancy



Genetic counseling helps to increase your understanding of genetic conditions that you run in your family. There can be a few reasons why you might think of getting a genetic counseling session. Also, it is very important for you to call your genetic counselor in case you have any questions or if some changes occur in your family’s cancer history.


  • https://oxfordmedicine.com/view/10.1093/med/9780199359097.001.0001/med-9780199359097
  • https://www.nature.com/subjects/genetic-counselling