WebMD Medical News
Louise Chang, MD
June 28, 2007 -- A new study shows a lupus treatment may lead to fertility
problems in men.
Researchers found sperm damage linked to infertility is common in men with
lupus and appears to be related to a commonly used treatment for the
Because the disease tends to strike during the reproductive years,
researchers say the results suggest freezing and storing sperm should be
discussed early in the treatment of men diagnosed with lupus.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system turns on
itself and attacks healthy tissue and joints, causing organ damage, severe
pain, and often debilitating disability.
The disease is nine times more common in women than in men, and researchers
say this is the first study to look at how the disease and its treatments
affect male reproductive health.
In the study, published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, researchers at
the University of São Paulo in Brazil compared sperm count, shape, and function
in 35 men with lupus to a group of healthy men.
The results showed men with lupus had lower average sperm counts and sperm
motility. They also had a lower sperm volume and a lower percentage of normally
In addition, researchers examined the men’s sexual organs including the
testes, which produce sperm, and found men with lupus had smaller testicular
volumes in both testes than the healthy men.
Their analysis showed men with lupus who had more treatments of intravenous
cyclophosphamide (also known as Cytoxan) were much more likely to have
permanent sperm damage tied to infertility than men who had received the
treatment less often.
They say it’s not possible to predict which men with lupus will become
infertile as a result of this treatment. But this study suggests that about
five years of treatment with Cytoxan is associated with severe sperm damage and
reinforces the need to discuss storing sperm prior to treatment.
SOURCES: Soares, P. Arthritis & Rheumatism, July 2007; vol 56: pp
2352-2561. News release, John Wiley & Sons Inc.
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