Lupus Treatment Linked to Male Fertility Problems

THURSDAY, June 28 (HealthDay News) -- Sperm abnormalities in men with lupus may be linked to intravenous treatment with the immunosuppressant cyclophosphamide (IV CYC), according to Brazilian researchers.

In a new study, published in the July issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism, researchers studied 25 men with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and 35 healthy controls.

SLE is an autoimmune disease that mainly affects women in their reproductive years but can also affect men. There have been concerns about the future fertility of men with SLE, but, until now, no studies have been conducted on testes function and sperm abnormalities in men with SLE.

The researchers examined the genitalia and analyzed the semen of all of the participants.

They found that the men with SLE had lower testicular volume, a lower sperm count, lower sperm motility, lower sperm volume and a lower percentage of normally formed sperm, compared with their healthy counterparts.

Furthermore, the SLE patients with more severe sperm abnormalities had a higher frequency of treatment with IV CYC, suggesting that IV CYC treatment may be associated with fertility-compromising damage to the testes.

The researchers pointed out that although it is not possible to predict which men with SLE will become infertile, it is important to discuss the option of freezing and storing sperm with all male SLE patients early in the course of the disease.

More information

The Lupus Foundation of America has more about lupus in men.

SOURCE: John Wiley & Sons Inc., news release, June 28, 2007