Because the disease tends to strike during the reproductive years,researchers say the results suggest freezing and storing sperm should bediscussed early in the treatment of men diagnosed with lupus.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system turns onitself and attacks healthy tissue and joints, causing organ damage, severepain, and often debilitating disability.
The disease is nine times more common in women than in men, and researcherssay this is the first study to look at how the disease and its treatmentsaffect male reproductive health.
Lupus Treatment May Cause Male Infertility
In the study, published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, researchers atthe University of São Paulo in Brazil compared sperm count, shape, and functionin 35 men with lupus to a group of healthy men.
The results showed men with lupus had lower average sperm counts and spermmotility. They also had a lower sperm volume and a lower percentage of normallyformed sperm.
In addition, researchers examined the men’s sexual organs including thetestes, which produce sperm, and found men with lupus had smaller testicularvolumes in both testes than the healthy men.
Their analysis showed men with lupus who had more treatments of intravenouscyclophosphamide (also known as Cytoxan) were much more likely to havepermanent sperm damage tied to infertility than men who had received thetreatment less often.
They say it’s not possible to predict which men with lupus will becomeinfertile as a result of this treatment. But this study suggests that aboutfive years of treatment with Cytoxan is associated with severe sperm damage andreinforces the need to discuss storing sperm prior to treatment.