For Women with Cystic Fibrosis, Contraceptive Counseling is Imperative

MAY 13, 2015
Jacquelyn Gray
Advanced treatment has allowed people with cystic fibrosis (CF) to live longer. Consequently, researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) urged physicians to talk to female CF patients about contraception.
Causing sticky mucus to overwhelm the lungs, pancreas, and other organs, it was rare for children who inherited CF in the 1960’s to live to enter elementary school. However, a better understanding of the disease enabled people with CF to live into their 30s, 40s — and even longer — a UPenn Medicine statement pointed out.
However, this victory comes with additional challenges, as researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the UPenn found that more and more females with CF are not using contraception and experiencing unwanted pregnancies.  
“As the median age of survival for women with CF rises, reproductive health is becoming increasingly important in this population,” lead author Andrea H. Roe, MD, an OB/GYN resident at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, said in a statement. “While this once was not an issue, what we found is that participants in our study are sexually active, but contraceptive use is inadequate.”
Their study, which was published on May 4 in Obstetrics & Gynecology and presented at the 2015 American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Annual Clinical and Scientific Meeting, was based on a survey of taken by 53 female CF patients aged 17-45, which gauged their quality of life and reproductive habits.
The researchers reported 83% of participants are sexually active, and 31% have been pregnant. Of those pregnancies, 22% resulted in abortion due to medical complications or because it was unplanned.
While 65% of women in the U.S use contraception, only 49% of CF patients reported contraception application, with condoms (35%) and oral contraceptive pills (27%) being the most popular practices.
“Respondents prioritize effectiveness and ease of use in their contraceptive method; they want to avoid side effects, medication interactions, and diminished sexual enjoyment,” the investigators wrote.
Furthermore, the investigators found that women with advanced forms of the disease were less likely to use contraception, the statement pointed out. 
“Our CF population is sexually active, but contraceptive use is low and unplanned and mistimed pregnancies are common,” the authors concluded. “Uptake of contraceptive methods that fit these women's preferences is low. There is significant unmet need for contraception in this population.”

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