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Lupus and men


It is estimated that for every 10 people who have lupus, only one will be male.

It is often said that men with lupus will be more seriously affected than women, but is this true? Recent studies1 have shown that men with lupus have an increased frequency of seizures, immune-mediated anaemia (low haemoglobin), & lupus anticoagulant (which can lead to blood clots). On the other hand men seem to have a lower frequency of Sjogren's Syndrome, which causes dry eyes & dry mouth. Although men are more likely to have these more serious manifestations, they show up the same in both sexes, i.e. if looking at a man & a woman who have seizures, the man won't necessarily have them worse than the woman.

Do men cope differently? It may be harder for a man to cope with having lupus, because it is often thought of as a women's disease, they may wonder if they are 'less of a man' because they have it, which is certainly not the case. They may also have difficulty in discussing the illness with others, & because there aren't as many men with lupus, they may find it hard to find another sufferer to talk with. Men are often thought of as the bread winner, & if they may feel pressure if they aren't able to work because of their illness. But worrying about such things & getting stressed can make the lupus worse, which leads to being stuck in a viscious circle. This can also lead to problems in their relationships.

Hormones are thought to play a big part in lupus, especially the female hormone oestrogen. Both males & females produce the hormones oestrogen & androgen, but in different quantities. However, it has been shown that men with lupus do not produce abnormal levels of oestrogen. Men with lupus have normal fertility, muscles, hair patterns, voices, etc, they are no less 'manly' than any 'normal' male. More research is needed to determine the role of hormones in lupus.


1 Study by Dr. Michelle Petri of Johns Hopkins University




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