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Cystic Fibrosis and Male Infertility

Infertility is a common problem for males. Conception is a complicated process and there are many obstacles. Fortunately, if you have infertility issues, that doesn’t automatically mean that you won’t be able to have your own child with your partner. There are treatments and procedures that can increase the chances of conception.

Infertility is a problem with your reproductive system that stops you from impregnating a female. If a male and a female have repeated unprotected sex for over a year and the female doesn’t get pregnant then you, she, or both of you may have infertility issues.

How common is male infertility?

Infertility is a common issue, with more than five million couples in the United States dealing with this problem. Infertility affects one in every six couples who are trying to conceive. In at least half of all cases of infertility, a male factor is a major or contributing cause. This means that about 10% of all males in the United States who are attempting to conceive suffer from infertility.

Is it easy to conceive?

No. Conception is a complicated process that depends on many factors:

- The production of healthy sperm by the male and healthy eggs by the female.

- Unblocked fallopian tubes that allow the sperm to reach the egg.

- The sperm's ability to fertilize the egg when they meet.

- The ability of the fertilized egg (embryo) to become implanted in the female’s uterus.

- Good embryo quality.

Finally, for the pregnancy to continue to full term, the embryo must be healthy and the female’s hormonal environment adequate for its development. When just one of these factors is impaired, infertility can happen.

Which males are more likely to have infertility?

Some males are more likely than others to experience infertility. You might be more likely if:

- You have overweight or obesity.

- You’re age 40 or older.

- You’ve been exposed to radiation.

- You’ve been exposed to environmental toxins including lead, calcium, pesticides or mercury.

- You use tobacco, marijuana or alcohol.

- You’re taking some medications including cyproterone, flutamide, spironolactone, bicalutamide, cimetidine or ketoconazole.

- You’re around heat that raises the temperature of your testes. Those who frequently use a sauna, hot tub or wheelchair might experience this.

- You have a history of undescended testicle(s).

- You have a history of varicoceles, which are widened veins in your scrotum.

- You’ve been exposed to testosterone. Some males need injections, implants or topical gel for low testosterone.

What causes male infertility?

Many biological and environmental factors can impact your fertility. Possibilities include:

- Azoospermia: Your infertility can be related to your inability to produce sperm cells.

- Oligospermia: The production of low or poor quality sperm.

- Genetic diseases: Examples include Klinefeflter’s syndrome, myotonic dystrophy, microdeletion and more.

- Malformed sperm: Sperm that cannot live long enough to fertilize the egg.

- Some medical conditions: Examples include diabetes, some autoimmune disorders, cystic fibrosis and some infections.

- Some medications and supplements.

Variococles: This is a condition where the veins on your testicles are larger than normal, causing them to overheat, which can affect the shape or number of your sperm.

- Cancer treatments: Chemotherapy, radiation or a surgery that removes the testicles (one or both).

- Unhealthy habits: Substance use, including alcohol, smoking and drugs.

- Trauma to your testes.

- Hormonal disorders: Disorders that affect your hypothalamus or pituitary glands can affect your infertility.

What are the symptoms of male infertility?

The infertility itself is the symptom. However, it’s much more difficult to describe the negative psychological and emotional symptoms infertility has on a couple who wants to have children. Many times, conceiving a child becomes the total focus of their lives. Feelings of depression, loss, grief, inadequacy and failure are common in males as well as females seeking pregnancy.

Individuals or couples experiencing any of these feelings may want to seek professional help from healthcare providers like a therapist or psychiatrist experienced in dealing with infertility issues. Such providers can help you deal realistically with the situation and provide support even while you are going through treatment.


What tests are done?

First, your healthcare provider may do a semen analysis. It determines the following:

- Sperm volume: Amount of sperm per ejaculate.

- pH: A measurement of acidity or basicity.

- Sperm concentration: Number of sperm per millimeter of semen.

- Total sperm count: Number of sperm in your whole ejaculate.

- Velocity: How fast your sperm travels.

- Linearity: How straight your sperm moves.

- Morphology: Size and shape of your sperm.

- Color.

- Viscosity: How fast your semen liquefies.


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.


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. Chawla Nursing Home 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.

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