Infertility is when couples do not get pregnant despite having regular unprotected sex. Around 1 in 7 couples in the UK have difficulties getting pregnant, but couples affected by PCD are more likely to experience fertility problems. The chance of having fertility problems if you have PCD appears to be higher in men compared to women, but many men and women with PCD have children without any problems.
No. Although PCD increases the risk of having fertility problems, many men and women with PCD have children without any problems.
Just like in the lungs, the womb and fallopian tubes have cilia too. These cilia are thought to help the egg travel through the tube to be fertilised by sperm and then implant in the womb. In women with PCD who have fertility problems, it is thought this might be due to the cilia in womb and fallopian tubes not functioning normally.
PCD can also affect sperm. Some men with PCD have low numbers of sperm or sperm that can’t move normally. This can make it more difficult for the sperm to travel and fertilize the egg and lead to problems conceiving in some men with PCD.
Yes. Everyone should use contraception if they wish to prevent pregnancy regardless of whether you have PCD.
It’s not possible to predict who will and won’t have fertility problems in the future.
Do not forget that you also need to protect yourself against contracting STIs. Please contact your local GP or sexual health clinic to help you decide the best contraception and protection for you. More information is available on the NHS website: NHS - Guide to sexual health services
Your PCD care team are likely the best people to speak to about fertility and PCD. They will be able to direct you to a fertility specialist if needed. Your GP can also refer you to a fertility specialist.
If you have fertility problems, there are options available that can help in many cases. A fertility specialist will usually recommend some tests and then discuss possible treatment options. This can sometimes include treatments like intrauterine insemination (putting sperm directly into the womb), using donor eggs or sperm, or IVF (artificial fertilisation of the egg and sperm outside of the womb before returning it to the womb).
Some fertility treatments are available on the NHS, but some require self-funding.
Pregnancy causes changes in how your heart and lungs function. If you are thinking about attempting to conceive, it’s a good idea to let your PCD care team know. Your PCD team can discuss with you how pregnancy might affect your health and help plan your care if you are pregnant.
If you have PCD, the chance of your child also having PCD depends on which PCD genes you have. Before you get pregnant, your PCD care team may be able to advise you on your individual chance of your child having PCD or they might recommend speaking to a genetics specialist. For more information on genetics and PCD please head to our dedicated page: PCD Support UK - Genetics
With many thanks to Lydia Newman and Prof Ying Cheong for their support in keeping this webpage up to date.