Sexuality & Fertility

Fertility and CF

Making informed choices about your sexual and reproductive health is important for everyone. There are some extra things that need to be considered when you have CF. Below is some general information about fertility, sexual health and CF.

There are also some links to some other sites that have helpful information about CF, sexuality and relationships.

Men

Male-Symbol.jpgDid you know that while 98% of males with CF are infertile, they can still have their own children? Infertility happens because the small tubes (called the vas deferens) that let sperm mix into the seminal fluid (ejaculate) become blocked by thick mucus, so sperm can't pass out of the testicles.

Vas deferens.jpg

This has usually happened by the time male babies with CF are born. The good news is that with advances in fertility treatment it is possible for men with CF to have their own biological children through sperm aspiration and IVF.

Being infertile doesn't affect normal sexual function; it just means there won't be any sperm in your semen. If you would like a semen analysis to check your fertility, please ask the CF team to arrange this for you.

If you are thinking about starting a family, having a semen analysis is the first step in the process. Please talk to the CF team if you would like to find out more about starting a family.

It is important to remember that although you may be "shooting  blanks" you should still practice safe sex (using a condom) to prevent catching sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

STIs include: Chlamydia, HIV, Hepatitis, Thrush, Gonorrhoea, Syphilis, Genital Warts.

 

Women

Female symbol.jpgWomen with CF may have reduced fertility, but are often able to conceive a baby naturally. Causes for reduced fertility can include

 

    • Not ovulating (getting periods) due to being underweight or if sick
    • Thick cervical mucus can make it difficult for sperm to reach fallopian tubes

Because natural fertility is possible in most women with CF contraception should be used. It can be a bit more complicated choosing what sort of contraception to use for women with CF because of frequent antibiotic use and other problems. The table below gives an overview of some of the contraceptive options available in New Zealand, their pros and cons. Please talk to your CF team if you have questions about which contraception method is best for you.

Contraception Method Effectiveness Pros Cons
The Pill 96 - 98%
  • Easy to take
  • Can improve PMS
  • 12 hour window if you forget
  • not effective if on antibiotics
  • not suitable if you have liver disease
  • not suitable for severe CFRD

Mini Pill

(cerazette)

98%
  • OK with broad spectrum Abs
  • Suitable for CFRD
  • 12 hour window

  • Cerazette not funded. Cost $50-90 for 6 months

    Other mini pills (noraday, microlut) are funded/part funded but must be taken at same time each day (3hr window)
Depo provera (injection) 99%
  • No pills to take
  • May reduce or stop periods
  • Not affected by ABs
  • May reduce bone density therefore not recommended
  • Can take up to 2 yrs to regain fertility
Implant 98%
  • Not affected by ABs
  • Not thought to affect bone density
  • Lasts for 3-5  years

  • Small procedure under local anaesthetic to be fitted and removed
  • may get irregular bleeding
IUD (mirena) 99%
  • Not affected by ABs
  • Can last up to 5 years
  • May stop periods
  • Can be uncomfortable when first placed
  • may get irregular bleeding
Condoms (male or female) 85-98%
  • Some protection against STIs
  • Higher failure rates than other methods

 

Starting a family

The decision to start a family is a big one. There are lots of things to consider including your overall health, and the supports you have available. Your partner should be checked for their CF carrier status (a blood test) to determine if there is a risk of having a baby with CF. The CF team will refer you to a genetic counsellor to talk about this.

If you are unable to conceive a baby naturally, the New Zealand government offers funding for up to 2 cycles of IVF for eligible couples. 

Please talk to the team if you have any questions about becoming a parent.

CF and pregnancy

It is very important to speak to the CF team before considering pregnancy.  For women whose lung function is greater than 50% predicted, there is no reason you won't be able to have a safe and health pregnancy.

Pregnancy is not recommended if your lung function is below 50%. This is because of the risks to your health that could occur by being pregnant. 

There are a number of "boxes to tick" before trying for a baby including reviewing your medication to make sure the meds you are taking are safe during pregnancy.

Useful information

Below are some links to more information on sexual health and fertility:

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Page last reviewed: 05 September 2013
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