Men with cystic fibrosis (CF) revealed sexual and reproductive health (SRH)-related concerns that might compromise their mental health and intimate relationships.

“All believed that comprehensive CF care should include SRH, especially given the health improvements associated with [highly effective modulator therapies],” said the authors of the study recently published in the Journal of Cystic Fibrosis.

They interviewed 24 males (mean age, 33.7±11.8 years, age range, 19-60 years) diagnosed with CF and found 5 major topics:

  • CF-related SRH concerns, in particular infertility, might have a negative impact on men’s perceptions of masculinity, relationships, and mental health. “There’s some ‘guy pride’ in it. You’re in the prime of your life and you can’t even have kids. It’s rough on your . . . mental [health],” one of the participants said.
  • Addressing SRH in CF care is increasingly important as life expectancy increases. “We’re in a very good place in CF care that we can consider these kinds of issues . . . previously you didn’t get a chance to think about these things: you died or were in the hospital,” one of the participants said. About half of the participants manifested the desire of having children. However, the decision is affected by several reasons, including personal finances, partner stability, their health and longevity, costs associated with assisted reproductive technologies, and the potential for passing on CF to their offspring.
  • Lack of SRH counseling and care for men with CF. According to many participants, CF providers do not fulfill all their needs for a proper discussion about SRH. “I didn’t feel like I was going to get the support there [at the CF clinic] . . . so, I just didn’t bother [discussing SRH],” one of them said.
  • CF providers should address SRH regularly in a stepwise fashion since early adolescence. Most participants believe that CF providers should take initiative into starting SRH-related conversations. “Everything all at one time was just dumped . . . it would have been easier to get that stuff [SRH information] . . . piecemeal and discuss things as you go, then that might be easier to make a decision,” one of the participants mentioned.
  • Men with CF value peer support and SRH information featuring the experiences of other men with CF. For the participants, emotional support is key.

The participants highlighted the importance of talking about mental health and SRH, advising other men diagnosed with CF to ask all questions they might have despite the eventual embarrassment.

Reference

Clarke AR, Stransky OM, Bernard M, et al. Men’s sexual and reproductive health in cystic fibrosis in the era of highly effective modulator therapies–a qualitative study. J Cyst Fibros. Published online February 12, 2022. doi:10.1016/j.jcf.2022.02.002