Factors Influencing Fertility In Men – Cystic Fibrosis And Its Impact On Men And Women’s Fertility By Dr Akash Surana, Fertility Consultant, NOVA IVF, Vashi Mumbai

Men and women with cystic fibrosis (CF) may encounter reproductive tract abnormalities causing infertility. Fortunately, assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) can help infertile male and female patients with CF achieve successful parenthood. The article below tells us how this condition impacts men and women. (CF) Cystic fibrosis is a developed hereditary condition that makes one prone to persistent lung infections. In addition, it affects multiple organ systems, including lungs, endocrine, epithelial tissues, gastrointestinal system, pancreas, and even the reproductive tract. As a result, reproductive function has become a concern in managing CF adult patients (including men and women).

How Does CF Affect One’s Fertility? Shares Fertility Consultant

  1. Cystic fibrosis is known to cause frequent lung infections and chronic breathing problems. But, it can harm one’s fertility too. For men, untreated CF can lead to infertility and azoospermia (a condition in which there’s no measurable sperm in a man’s ejaculate (semen). Men with CF have reduced sperm quality. CF acts as a barrier when it comes to sperm penetration. There will be spermatogenesis abnormalities, including a decreased count of mature spermatids and maturation arrest, thinner ejaculation, and lower semen volume. Male CF patients are infertile due to a total absence or blockage of the sperm canal. This defect is a congenital bilateral absence of vas deferens (CBAVD). The lack of sperm in the semen makes it impossible to fertilize an egg, and this absence may make the semen thinner.
  2. Thickened cervical mucus witnessed in CF women’s reproductive tract could lead to fertility issues. Despite CF being associated with female infertility, the underlying causes remain unclear. Ovulation disturbance is seen in women with advanced CF. Those with CF will have smaller ovaries, smaller uteri, irregular oestrous cycles, and decreased ovulation.
  3. Although many women have regular periods, there are chances of having missed or irregular periods and amenorrhoea in women with CF. Many women get their menses on the 28th day of their menstrual cycles, which is the regular length of menstruation. But, many women will get their periods too early or too late. Early, late, skipped, or extended periods mean irregular periods. Various factors such as hormonal imbalances, certain medications, birth control pills, stress, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and following an extreme diet or rigorous exercise can make your periods irregular. Those with irregular periods will exhibit signs such as heavy or lighter flow, a period lasting more than seven days or less than three days, bleeding between menses, and bleeding after menopause. Fertility problems are tied to lung disease severity, poor weight, and lack of control of CF-linked diabetes.

How Men And Women With CF Can Achieve Parenthood? Explains Dr Akash Surana

Those with CF need to discuss their problems with a fertility consultant who will help them fulfil their dream of embracing parenthood. Women can opt for assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) like in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy, or even insemination. Before starting any treatment, one will be counselled, and genetic tests have to be performed on both partners to know whether the baby is affected or not. Sperm retrieval is a procedure performed to get sperm for fertility purposes. It’s necessary if men cannot ejaculate or in case of azoospermia. Sperm retrieval can be done with in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) to achieve pregnancy.

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