Starting a family
If you are thinking of settling down with your partner and starting a family, you may be concerned about passing the condition to your children or grandchildren. You need to be able to discuss this with your partner when the time is right.
Deciding whether or not to have a child can be a very emotionally challenging time for any couple and this can inevitably be more so when one of you has the haemophilia gene. You both may feel guilty, angry or anxious about the possibility of having a daughter who is a carrier of the gene or a son with haemophilia, and may wonder if you will be able to cope with the demands associated with this extra responsibility.
Remember that a man with haemophilia will not have a son with the condition but a daughter will be a carrier. The chances that the son of a carrier will have haemophilia or that a daughter will also be a carrier are 50:50. You can read more about inheriting the haemophilia gene here.
Staff at your Haemophilia Centre will be able to help you and your partner with information and counselling on starting a family. They will ask if you would like to speak to a geneticist – a doctor with specialist knowledge on how genetic disorders like haemophilia can be passed on and the likelihood of haemophilia affecting future generations. They will also be able to advise you on the different choices available to you, such as:
• To remain childless;
• Natural conception, with the possibility of having an affected child;
• Natural conception followed by prenatal diagnosis and the possibility of termination of an affected foetus;
• Assisted conception with ‘washed sperm’ or ‘donor sperm’ for HIV sero discordant couples – this means where the haemophilic man is affected with HIV whilst his partner is not;
• Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) – enabling the detection of the haemophilia gene by biopsying pre-embryos following IVF techniques and, if available, selecting two unaffected embryos and implanting them into the uterus, giving them a chance to develop into a pregnancy;
Further information on planning a family can be downloaded from the booklet called "Planning a Family."