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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 sex organs.

For most men with CF, the tube (the vas deferens) that carries sperm to the penis does not develop. This condition 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. This condition has not been reported to affect sexual 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 should think about the added demands of parenthood and how it might affect their own health. The decision is personal, and you should talk with your healthcare team if you are thinking about parenting or having a baby.

Online Medical Reviewer: Blaivas, Allen J., DO
Online Medical Reviewer: Holloway, Beth Greenblatt, RN, M.Ed.
Date Last Reviewed: 11/1/2016
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