I am 31 year old male and have been suffering from gout for the past 5 years. I am on colchicine, a long term medication. Will the disease affect my sexual health and fertility?
Gout is a condition where the joint is inflamed due to deposits of sharp, crystallized uric acid. Uric acid is a by-product when our body breaks down purines, the type of proteins found in some foods and beverages like liver, red meat, seafood, peas, and beer.
Uric acid is usually absorbed in the blood, processed by the kidneys, and eliminated in the urine. But when we eat too much food containing purines or when the kidneys are malfunctioned and do not excrete the uric acid properly, it starts to accumulate in the blood. Eventually, this build-up leads to deposition of uric acid crystals in the joint causing pain, redness, heat, and swelling. The joint commonly affected is the big toe. But other joints in the knees, wrists, fingers, and elbows can be affected as well.
Generally, gout does not affect sexual health and fertility. Occasionally, it can cause erectile dysfunction (ED) and the medication used in the treatment may result in infertility.
Studies have shown that men with gout are at higher risk of developing ED. Should ED develop, it is also more likely to be severe. Scientists believe that the lining cells of the blood vessels in the penis are damaged by the high blood uric acid levels.
Men with gout are also more likely to drink more alcohol, be overweight, or have medical conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, chronic kidney disease, and depression. All these conditions are linked to ED.
Besides, pain from gout also makes sexual intimacy uncomfortable, further aggravating fertility issues.
Colchicine, which is the drug of choice in the treatment of gout, can cause suppression of the production and maturation of the sperm and the egg. There are scientific reports suggesting that long term consumption of colchicine can lead to azoospermia (absence of sperm).