PCHC Model


The PCHC-model frames the content and defines the elements of preconception health and care. The elements describe the latest approaches in preconception health and care, including biological and health promotion approaches, as well as psychological, social, ethical and cultural perspectives. The model is easy to translate into the curricula of the healthcare courses of the participating countries. The honeycomb model serves as a guide for the concrete elaboration of the content, didactic approach and learning outcomes regarding preconception, preconception health and care. The model and its elements form a framework for the (e-learning) courses and the online platform. Deeper information can be found in our handbook Preconception Health and Care – Handbook for education
The content of the PCHC-model (honeycomb) describes factors that affect fertility. Research constantly reveals new information, which should be transferred to youth and adults to make sure they know how to protect their fertility and help them to make wise choices. The content of the Honeycomb-model will grow during the project. We start from factors with strong evidence of fertility effects.

Age and fertility

Age affects the ability to conceive. Maternal/female and paternal/male fertility declines as women and men age. Age is the single biggest factor affecting a woman’s fertility. For men, age-related fertility decline is more subtle but does happen as well. While the effects of female age on fertility have been known for a long time, more recent studies show that the age of the male partner also affects the chance of pregnancy and overall pregnancy health.

Understanding reproduction

Many women and men lack knowledge about fertility, including the anatomy and physiological functioning of their reproductive system. This item teaches you to understand how conception happens.

Lifestyle factors

Lifestyle factors are habits and choices of life that can influence overall health and well-being, including fertility. The influence that lifestyle factors have on fertility deserves our attention. There are lifestyle factors that negatively influence fertility while others are beneficial for fertility of both men and women.

Infection risks

Infections (infectious diseases) can impact the reproductive health of women and men. These infections range from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) to TORCHS infections. Risk assessment, screening, and treatment for specific infections should be a component of preconception care.

Pre-existing medical conditions

Certain (chronic) medical conditions, in both men and women, increase the risk of infertility issues and risk of having an unhealthy child. Because pre-existing medical conditions have been associated with poor pregnancy outcomes, screening by a professional is advised. Following conditions need attention in good time before pregnancy: diabetes, endocrine, neurological, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, renal, immunological and hematological disorders.

Environmental factors

Environmental exposures in critical periods during pregnancy may result in lifelong or intergenerational adverse health effects. Most chemicals in commercial use have not been tested for possible fertility toxicity. Environmental exposure can result in adverse effects of female and male reproduction. Identifying men and women at risk, providing counselling about the impact of chemical toxicants, and empowering men and women to take precautionary action, is stated in guidelines for preconception.

Occupational environment

Occupational hazards may have an impact on reproductive health of men and women. Evidence is clear and provides guidance for health care professionals working in preconception health and care. Identifying the most susceptible environmental health hazards to fertility is the key to avoid future problems.

Social environment

Social environment and its’ determinants can impact reproductive health. During women’s preconceptional and pre-pregnancy consultations, healthcare providers may have difficulties to discuss socially stigmatized health topics, which are important for health of both mother (to be) and child. Social environment variables can be neighborhood (housing, mobility), education, discrimination (inequalities) and social support from friends, relatives, including interpersonal and intimate partner violence.

Strong evidence exists of the afore mentioned themes. The project and the honeycomb-model synthetize the scientific literature and translates the evidence into tools for education.

Our PCHC-model describes the factors without making priority lists. Fertility is a very individual and unique issue for everyone.

PCHC-competences in midwife and nurse education

The midwife and nurse student
– knows the factors affecting fertility and PCH
– advises clients and promotes their fertility awareness
– is competent to counsel and support in family planning issues

PreconNet presentation by Magali De Pauw

Click the picture on the right and watch Magali De Pauw’s presentation of the honeycomb model.

PreconNet project and PCHC-model leaflet

Click on the image above to download the English version of the leaflet.

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