Medication use and infertility in men with lupus
- Gonad evaluation in male systemic lupus erythematosus
- Arthritis & Rheumatism, Volume 56, Number 7, July 2007, pp. 2352 - 2361
What is the topic?
Because lupus can affect almost every organ system in the body, men who develop lupus may have concerns about their fertility, especially since the presence of antisperm antibodies has been observed in a significant percentage of lupus patients.
What did the researchers hope to learn?
The researchers sought to determine the frequency and possible causes of sperm damage in men with lupus.
Who was studied?
The researchers studied sperm development and sexual function in 35 males diagnosed with lupus and 35 healthy males.
How was the study conducted?
Each of the study participants underwent an examination by a urologist. Sperm samples were obtained to compare sperm count, shape, and motility (the ability of the sperm to move) between the two groups. The lupus patients also had their sex hormone levels determined, their medical histories collected (including data on the duration and dosages of medications they had taken for lupus), and their sperm samples tested for antisperm antibodies.
What did the researchers find?
The researchers found a high frequency of sperm abnormalities in men with lupus, including lower sperm counts and reduced sperm mobility. Both of these conditions are linked to male infertility. They also noted that the volume of the testes of the men with lupus was reduced compared to the controls. Their analysis showed, however, that these sperm and testicular abnormalities were not the result of lupus disease activity but stemmed from prolonged use (more than five years) of the immunosuppressant drug cyclophosphamide (CYC, trade name, Cytoxan®).
What were the limitations of the study?
Though the researchers showed that sperm abnormalities occurred much more frequently in males with lupus, the researchers were unable to predict which patients might become infertile.
What do the results mean for you?
It is already known that CYC is associated with infertility. This research confirms the possibility of infertility among men with lupus who receive CYC therapy. Men with lupus who must receive this treatment may want to consider freezing sperm samples first.