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Does Cystic Fibrosis Cause Infertility? Doctor Explains Its Impact

If you are diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, you are at risk of infertility. Here is how this condition affects fertility.

Chanchal Sengar
Written by: Chanchal SengarUpdated at: Jun 01, 2022 11:46 IST
Does Cystic Fibrosis Cause Infertility? Doctor Explains Its Impact

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Infertility is a widespread problem and affects around about 15 % of the Indian population. There can be many reasons of infertility among men and women and one of them is Cystic Fibrosis. This condition can affect fertility in both men and women. Here is everything you need to know about Cystic Fibrosis and its relationship with Infertility from Dr. Kalyani Shrimali, Fertility Consultant at Nova IVF Fertility, Indore.

What Is Cystic Fibrosis?

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a condition in which your body generates thick mucus, causing respiratory and digestive issues as well as making you sensitive to bacterial infections. It's a genetic disorder. The cells that create mucus, digestive fluids and sweat gets affected by this. Normally, these produced fluids are thin and slick. However, in those with CF, a defective gene causes the secretions to become thick and sticky. Instead of acting as lubricants, the secretions block tubes, ducts, and channels, notably in the lungs and pancreas. Read on to know how cystic fibrosis affects fertility.

Can Cystic Fibrosis Cause Infertility?

cystic fibrosis cause infertility

People with CF produce normal level of sex hormones like estrogen, progesterone and testosterone like others and they have normal sex life with their partners too. However, adults with CF can face infertility as a side effect. When it comes to starting a family, they face unique hurdles. This is because the genetic abnormality that causes cystic fibrosis also leads to infertility in nearly all males and makes it more difficult for females to get pregnant.

95% of males with CF face conditions like Congenital Bilateral Absence Of The Vas Deferens (CBAVD) and oligospermia (low Sperm Count). Females with the disease experience delayed puberty, amenorrhea, and diminished fertility. Congenital uterine and vaginal absence may also be linked to CFTR mutations. The severity of the responses varies widely from one person to the next.

Also Read: Why Cystic Fibrosis Makes The Skin Salty?


Cystic Fibrosis In Females

Women with cystic fibrosis are usually considered to be less reproductive than women without the disease. Because the mucus which covers the cervix and the vagina is so thick that travelling of sperm through it becomes difficult, chances of fertilization reduce. If a woman with CF does not menstruate due to lung, nutrition, or weight issues, she may ovulate less frequently. Women with CF can have lesser fertility rates that are comparable to those of the general population with proper diet and lung function.

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Cystic Fibrosis in Men

cystic fibrosis cause infertility

In males, despite of normal sperm production, the blocked or missing vas deferens prevents those sperms from mixing with semen making approximately 98% of men infertile. One of the issues induced by the CFTR genetic mutation is a blocked or absent vas deferens. In general, sexual desire and performance are normal. Fluid collection around the testes (hydrocele) is four times more common in men with CF, which can affect how well the testes perform. It's also 15 times more likely to have an undescended testicle. Some men generate fewer sperm or no mature sperm.

Conceiving With Cystic Fibrosis

cystic fibrosis cause infertility

Getting pregnant with cystic fibrosis is not impossible. You can conceive and have healthy babies, but this illness can interfere with fertility, cause pregnancy to be delayed, and result in preterm or underweight newborns. Here are some ways where cystic fibrosis patients can embrace parenthood.

  • Men who want to have children but are dealing with this disease can get their sperm extracted from either the epididymis or the testis and fertilized in vitro with eggs extracted from their partner.
  • Females can refer to IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization) and Insemination processes to get pregnant.
  • Consult your doctor to explore other ways of conception. There are so many ways in which a couple can become parents if either of them have cystic fibrosis or other medical condition that can cause infertility.

With the advancement of technology, despite having Cystic Fibrosis, living a normal life and conceiving a baby is possible. You should consult your doctor in case you are facing a problem leading a healthy social and sexual life.

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