Researchers from Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania concluded that women with cystic fibrosis (CF) require more contraceptive counseling. The results were presented in a poster entitled “Contraceptive Needs and Preferences in a Cohort of Women with Cystic Fibrosis” during the session of Contraceptive/Family Planning at 2015 American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Annual Clinical and Scientific Meeting in San Francisco, May 2-6, 2015.
CF is an inherited disease that causes thick and stick mucus leading to severe problems with breathing and bacterial infections in the lungs. This disease is common among white population in the United States, occurring in 1 in 2,500 to 3,500 white newborns. Until the 1960s, CF was a fatal disease of childhood and children often died before attending elementary school. Nowadays, improved treatments and management of the disease increase life expectancy and patients reach adulthood often living into 40s and beyond.
“As the median age of survival for women with cystic fibrosis rises, reproductive health is becoming increasingly important in this population,” said lead author Andrea H. Roe from the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. “While this once was not an issue, what we found is that participants in our study are sexually active, but contraceptive use is inadequate,” she added.
The study recruited female patients between 18 and 45 years age in a total of 53 to assess reproductive health and quality of life. 83% of these women were sexually active but only 49% of them used contraception, compared to 65 percent of women in the general U.S. population. Women with more severe CF disease were less likely to use contraception. “With less than half reporting that they use contraception, there is clearly a significant unmet need for contraception in this population,” said senior author Courtney A. Schreiber who is also an associate professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Penn. “Participants said they prioritize effectiveness and ease of use in their contraceptive method. They also want to avoid side effects and diminished sexual enjoyment,” he added in a press release.
Although 27% of the participants in the study had been pregnant, 22% of these pregnancies were terminated based on unplanned pregnancy or poor health. “It’s important that physicians working with this population discuss these matters with them so that women with CF can avoid unintended pregnancy, especially in the context of a heritable disease that may be exacerbated by pregnancy. Pregnancy planning is important in the population,” concluded Schreiber.