Lupus in Men

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed March 2023 | Last updated: May 2023

While women are much more likely to be diagnosed with lupus, men do develop the condition. Of the 1.5 million people living with lupus, about 1 in 10 are male, according to the Lupus Foundation of America. The rate of lupus in men seems to be increasing.1,3

Differences between men and women with lupus

Lupus is usually diagnosed later in men than in women, often between ages 50 and 70. Doctors think that men may receive a later diagnosis because lupus is considered a "woman's disease."

Men with lupus generally develop the same type of symptoms as women, with a few differences. The most common symptoms between both sexes are skin rash, fatigue (extreme tiredness), and joint pain. Both sexes experience flares and remissions, sometimes mild and sometimes moderate to severe. However, compared to women, men tend to have more serious:2-4

  • Kidney issues
  • Inflammation of the tissues lining major organs (serositis)
  • Central nervous system issues
  • Vascular (blood vessel) disease
  • Skin issues

Research is ongoing to understand how lupus is different in men compared to women. Some studies found that men have more seizures, immune-related anemia, blood clot formation, and chest pain (pleuritis), but less dry eye (Sjögren’s syndrome).2-5

A 2023 study found that men with lupus have more instances of heart attack than women with lupus. They also reported less fatigue than women. Other studies found little statistical difference between the symptoms of the sexes.2-5

Klinefelter syndrome and lupus

Klinefelter syndrome is a condition in which a man gets an extra X chromosome. Men usually get one X chromosome from their mother and one Y chromosome from their father. But those with Klinefelter syndrome have XXY chromosomes. This is also known as karyotype 47,XXY.6

Klinefelter syndrome causes several health issues, including a higher risk of developing lupus. Men with Klinefelter syndrome also tend to have a more serious form of the disease than women with lupus do, but a less severe condition than the lupus of other men.2

Men with lupus struggle more with health literacy

Recent research has also found that men who have lupus have poorer health literacy than women who have lupus. In the study, men had a considerably lower understanding of their condition and needed more help in reading health-related documents. This can lead to a delayed diagnosis and delayed treatment, both of which can lead to worse health outcomes for men with lupus.4,5

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