Dean Cruikshank

More information regarding fertility in Men with CF

It is estimated that 98% of males with CF are infertile due to the absence or incompletely formed vas deferens. "Vas Deferens" are the two tubes that bring sperm from the testes to the penis. It is very important to know that men with CF are not impotent. In fact, men with CF have normal male characteristics and normal sexual functions. They are infertile due to an blockage in their reproductive tract making it impossible for them to deliver sperm to their partner. Therefore, they are unble to father children naturally.

Up until approximately ten years ago, there was no medical procedure or treatment available to treat the blocked vas deferens. The two options to have children at the time were adoption or artificial insemination by donor sperm. In recent years, advances in assistive reproductive techniques (ART) have made it possible for a number of men with CF to father their own biological children. The men go through a high tech microsurgical technique to obtain sperm for in vitro fertilization (IVF) . One technique is called MESA, microsurgical epididymal sperm aspiration. This procedure is usually performed under local anesthesia (numbing medication). Using a special surgical microscopy, the urologist/infertility specialist introduces a tiny needle into the head of the epididymis (a set of curvy tubes that sperm travel through as they leave the testes) and aspirates the fluid containing sperm into a syringe. Once the sperm are removed, they are quickly placed into a special solution that supports their survival. It is then further divided into several portions for cryopreservation (freezing). Each frozen portion serves as a source of sperm to be used for a cycle of fertilization in the future. Although MESA and IVF have been attempted by a few couples since the early 1990's, the success rate was very low until MESA was combined with a different fertilization method called Intracytoplastic Sperm Injection (ICSI). In this technique, an individual sperm is directly injected into the egg of a woman. This markedly increases the chance of fertilization.

Once the couple has decided to use this method, the female partner will receive special hormone to increase ovulation (production of eggs). When the eggs are produced, they are removed from her body and placed into a test tube for sperm injection. In about three to five days, two or three embryos will be transferred back into the woman's uterus for implantation. Pregnancy will be assessed in ten to twelve days. The current estimated pregnancy rate is about 50-60% per cycle or even higher. Based on the current experience, the pregnancy rate is higher if the female partner's age is younger than 35.

Thanks to advances in assistive reproductive techniques, many men with CF and their partners are able to realize their dreams of having their own biological children.

For more information about where to do a semen analysis, click on attached list.