Fertility in Women With CF

Women with CF have thicker cervical mucus and can have ovulation issues due to poor nutrition. However, the majority of women with CF are fertile and can become pregnant if appropriate contraception is not used.

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Summary
  • It can take more time for women with cystic fibrosis to become pregnant than women without CF.
  • Most women with CF are able to become pregnant and achieve a normal pregnancy. 
  • Your obstetrician should be able to help you understand your reproductive health to help you make the right family planning decisions.

Thicker Cervical Mucus

Women with cystic fibrosis have thicker cervical mucus due to abnormal cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) function. Thicker mucus can make it harder for sperm to successfully penetrate the cervix and can increase the amount of time it takes to become pregnant.

Irregular Ovulation

Poor nutrition leading to irregular ovulation (the release of eggs from the uterus) can also contribute to fertility problems and is another reason why some women with CF may have trouble conceiving. However, most women with CF are able to become pregnant and achieve a normal pregnancy, with 85 percent of couples reporting that they were able to conceive within the first 12 months of stopping contraception

image of female reproductive system
The female reproductive system

Despite their thicker cervical mucus and possible ovulation issues, it is important to remember that women with CF are still fertile. Although puberty and menstruation may be irregular or delayed, healthy women with CF often do not have compromised fertility and experience few physical barriers to becoming pregnant aside from having thicker cervical mucus. For this reason, regardless of how severe their CF may be, all women with CF who are not ready to have children should use contraception to prevent the possibility of unplanned pregnancies.

Assisted Reproductive Technology

If you do have trouble conceiving, assisted reproductive technology (ART) techniques and alternate family-building options, such as adoption or surrogacy, are all viable options for starting a family. Your obstetrician should be able to help you understand your reproductive health to help you make the right family planning decisions. You can also learn more by discussing your family planning goals with your CF care team.

Watch parents with CF and a clinician discuss female fertility and how your health can affect your ability to have a successful pregnancy.
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Topics
Family Planning & Parenting | Fertility and Reproductive Health
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Sexuality, Fertility and Cystic Fibrosis: Information for Adults Download PDF
Fertility Information for CF Females Download PDF
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