Men with arthritis may be more fertile than their healthy peers, a study suggests.
New research has found that men with inflammatory joint disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis, are less likely to be childless and have more children than their healthy peers.
The researchers were inspired to look at fertility in men with the condition as impaired fertility had been reported in Norwegian women who suffer from inflammatory joint disease.
To get their results, published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, the team looked at data on 10,865 Norwegian men with either rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, or spondyloarthritis between 1967 and August 2021.
They decided to use number of children and childlessness as a measure of fertility.
The findings showed that the average number of children each patient fathered was 1.8 compared with 1.7 in the comparison group.
Around one in five of the patients was childless compared with more than one in four in the comparison group.
These differences were consistent over time, but the largest difference in number of children was highest for those diagnosed after 2000, with an average of 1.8 vs 1.6.
These patients also had the lowest risk of childlessness at 22 percent vs 28 percent.
In the 2000–21 era, the largest absolute difference in childlessness was observed among men diagnosed in their 30s which was 22 percent compared to 32 percent.
The average age of first-time fatherhood was found to be 27 among the men with inflammatory joint disease and 28 in the comparison group.
These results show that not only does arthritis not impair fertility in men, but they tend to have more kids earlier in life.
Dr. Gudrun David Sigmo from Stavanger University Hospital, Norway, said: “Male patients with inflammatory joint disease may be reassured that no impairment of fertility is expected.
“However, substudies according to specific diagnoses should be performed to offer more targeted patient information.
“Our finding of less childlessness and a higher number of children per man in patients with inflammatory joint disease is novel and generates new hypotheses regarding associations between fertility, inflammatory rheumatic diseases and immune-modulating drugs.
“This ought to be investigated further.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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