Cystic Fibrosis and the Reproductive System
How does CF affect the reproductive system?
Children with cystic fibrosis (CF) have an abnormality in the function of a cell protein called CFTR (cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator). CFTR controls the flow of water and certain salts in and out of the body's cells. As the movement of salt and water in and out of cells is altered, mucus becomes thickened.
In the reproductive system, the thickened secretions can cause blockages. These can affect how the sex organs develop and work.
For most men with CF, the tube (vas deferens) that carries sperm to the penis does not develop. This is called congenital bilateral absence of the vas deferens (CBAVD). Women also have an increase in thick cervical mucus. This may make it harder for them to get pregnant. But it does not affect sex drive or performance.
Symptoms that may be present due to CF’s effects on the reproductive system include:
Delayed sexual development
Absence or stopping of menstruation
Irregular menstrual periods
Inflammation of the cervix
Infertility or sterility
Both men and women with CF should think about the added demands of parenthood. Think about how it might affect your own health. This is a personal decision. Talk with your healthcare team if you are thinking about parenting or having a baby.