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Hydroxyurea linked to ‘significant, rapid’ reduction of sperm count

Six months of hydroxyurea therapy detrimentally effected spermatogenesis in men with sickle cell anemia, according to a small prospective study published in Blood.

“Hydroxyurea, at current doses, causes significant, rapid and unpredictable impairment of spermatogenesis in treated men,” Isabelle Berthaut, PhD, professor of histology and biology of reproduction at Tenon Hospital in Paris, and colleagues wrote.

Hydroxyurea — approved by the FDA in 1998 for the treatment of sickle cell anemia — helps reduce the production of sickle hemoglobin. Its side effects include low blood counts, gastrointestinal symptoms and loss of appetite.

Three previous retrospective studies showed an association between hydroxyurea and potentially detrimental effects on sperm parameters in men with sickle cell anemia. However, those observations occurred on studies involving as few as eight men, seven of whom did not have any comparative semen assessment prior to hydroxyurea initiation.


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