The time of our conception is when we are most vulnerable to survival and growing as a healthy human being. Genetic and environmental effects on gametes and the developing embryo can be literally life‐and‐death events with regard to the successful outcome of pregnancy. In the past decade, we have also understood that environmental factors under which the gametes grow and the embryo develops have lifelong implications with regard to developmental origins of health and disease. We now know that parenting begins before conception in that a compromised egg or sperm from either parent can alter the trajectory of development even if the embryo and intrauterine environment is optimal. There are now a large number of factors known to impact on the gametes to adversely affect them, including obesity, nutrition, cigarette smoking and environmental pollutants. The increasing use of in vitro fertilisation across the world exposes developing embryos to less than optimal environmental conditions through altered culture media, gases and potential pollutants from plastics, air and water. Many of these environmental exposures have not undergone experimental investigation and yet widely implemented in thousands of laboratories across the world. There have been many attempts to set up periconception planning either through the health service, the print and electronic media or through government action. We as a profession, as well as our Colleges, could do much better job in this area of preventative medicine by developing better guidelines and education for professional colleagues, the health service and the community.