Cystic Fibrosis and the Reproductive System
How does CF affect the reproductive system?
Children with CF have an abnormality in the function of a cell protein called the cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator (CFTR). 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 obstructions and affect the development and function of the sexual organs.
Most males with CF have obstruction of the sperm canal known as congenital bilateral absence of the vas deferens (CBAVD). Women also have an increase in thick cervical mucus that may lead to a decrease in fertility. This condition has not been reported to affect sexual drive or performance.
Symptoms that may be present due to the effects of CF 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 should consider the added demands of parenthood and how it might affect their own health. The decision is personal, and you should talk with your health care team if you are considering parenting or having a baby.
- Bass, Pat F. III, MD, MPH
- Grantham, Paula, RN, BSN