Male infertility affects about 98% of men with cystic fibrosis (CF). However, that does not mean they cannot father biological children. Infertility caused by cystic fibrosis is the result of a missing piece of the male reproductive system.
The sperm canal, or vas deferens, is missing in most men with CF. This is also known as congenital bilateral absence of the vas deferens, or CBAVD. The sperm develop in the testicle but since they have no transport to the semen, they cannot be ejaculated out to reach and fertilize an egg during intercourse. Lack of sperm in the ejaculate also contributes to thinner ejaculate and lower semen volume for men with CF.
It is also important to note that even though most men with CF are infertile, this is not the case for all of them. Some male CF patients do have sperm present in their ejaculate.
Infertile, Not Sterile
There is a distinction here between infertility and sterility. For men with CF and CBAVD, the method by which sperm are transported into the semen is missing, i.e., the vas deferens. The sperm, however, are not missing. In 90% of males with CF and CBAVD, sperm production is normal. Since sperm are available, fathering biological children is possible with assistance.
Options for the Male with CF
If you have CF and are considering having children, it is important to work with your CF healthcare team and a fertility specialist. This will maximize your chances of conceiving. In addition to managing your cystic fibrosis therapies, you will also need to balance those with the procedures and/or medications used to assist in conception.
If you are considering a lung transplant, be advised that many anti-rejection medications can lead to birth defects. You may want to consider the option of freezing your sperm before undergoing a transplant.
Since cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease, you may want to discuss genetic testing of your partner to find out if the gene is carried. If this is the case, other fertility options may be discussed.
Biological children are not out of the question, even though you have CF. Sperm retrieval can be performed, and viable sperm can be frozen for use later if you are not ready to start your family now.
When you and your partner are ready to start your family, the process for IVF can begin. Neway Fertility is known for helping thousands of families achieve the dream of having children. Contact us for a consultation to learn about how we can help you start yours.