Lung Disease Causes Male Infertility
A very rare condition, Young's Syndrome is most known for being a cause of male infertility. But there is also a genetic link between developing the syndrome and the subsequent development of bronchiectasis or a scarring and subsequent widening of the airways. The syndrome is also known as Barry-Perkins-Young Syndrome connoting respectively the first two patients to be diagnosed with the syndrome as well as the doctor who was the first to report on their symptoms.
Young's Syndrome shares many signs and symptoms with cystic fibrosis, including the aforementioned bronchiectasis, plus sinusitis and obstructive azoospermia. The latter condition describes a situation in which sperm are produced but fail to make their way into the ejaculatory fluid. This may be due to a physical blockage of some kind, but whatever the cause, the result is the same: the absence of sperm in a man's semen.
Young's Syndrome tends to be diagnosed in men in their middle years who are being evaluated for infertility. While no one knows the cause of this syndrome, many believe it is genetic in origin. For now, there is no known treatment or cure for the condition.
Researchers remain in the dark as to why Young's Syndrome prevents semen from inclusion in the seminal fluid or why it affects the lungs. Scientists are hard-pressed to discover any connection between these two observed physiological phenomena. However, half of all men diagnosed with Young's Syndrome report a previous history for either bronchitis or bronchiectasis. In these conditions, there is a thickening of the mucus in the lungs.
Several patients also report suffering from chronic sinopulmonary infections or those infections which affect the sinuses and the lung airways. Though many of these symptoms are also seen in cystic fibrosis, researchers have not been able to find a cause common to both these conditions. Still, there is something shared by every 2 out of 7 Young Syndrome patients: they are carriers of the delF508 mutation, the most common mutation seen in cystic fibrosis patients in northern Europe. This finding was discovered during the course of an investigation carried out in 1993.
The treatment of Young's Syndrome is focused on addressing the lung symptoms but there is no cure for the unfortunate symptom of infertility.
Many studies have found strength for the idea that exposure to mercury may be a catalyst for the development of Young's Syndrome. In 1955, mercurous chloride (calomel) was taken out of worm medications and teething powders in the UK. Since that time, there have been fewer incidences of chronic sinusitis, bronchitis, and bronchiectasis in men who suffer from Young's Syndrome.