Antisperm Antibody Testing Can Help Couples Understand Why They Struggle to Get Pregnant
If you are struggling to get pregnant, it is important to consider both female and male factor infertility. While many couples often think that female infertility is responsible, Ovation® wants you to know that 40% of couples actually suffer from male infertility.
One less-common cause of male infertility is antisperm antibodies
Sometimes, a man or a woman’s body will view sperm as an invader. As a result, the immune system will produce antisperm antibodies to destroy the sperm. If enough of these antibodies come into contact with the sperm, it can be difficult, if not impossible, for sperm to fertilize an egg. When a couple has difficulty getting pregnant due to antisperm antibodies, it is known as immunologic infertility.
Both men and women can produce antisperm antibodies
Normally, the sperm is kept away from the rest of a man’s body and immune system. However, injuries or surgeries to the testicles, as well as prostate gland infections, can cause sperm to come into contact with a man’s immune system. When this happens, his body will produce antisperm antibodies, which can lead to male infertility.
As for women, sometimes a woman’s body will have an allergic reaction to her partner’s sperm. Her body will react by producing antisperm antibodies, which can destroy her partner’s sperm. This type of allergic reaction is rare and is not fully understood by the medical community.
Testing is required to detect the presence of antisperm antibodies
After an Ovation partner physician conducts a routine male infertility history review, he or she may decide to perform an antisperm antibody test for one of two reasons.
1. When another cause of infertility cannot be found
2. When the results of infertility testing are unclear
To determine if antisperm antibodies are responsible for male infertility, your physician will order an antisperm antibody test to look for the presence of sperm-destroying antibodies in blood, vaginal fluid or semen. The testing is simple. A blood sample is taken from the woman, while a sperm sample is taken from the man.
High levels of antisperm antibodies make it more difficult for sperm to fertilize an egg
While high levels of antibodies can make it difficult for a couple to get pregnant, there is hope. To treat antisperm antibodies, couples often rely on assisted reproductive technology, or ART, to get pregnant. Certain solutions can be added to a man’s sperm to overcome the presence of antisperm antibodies.
Have more questions about antisperm antibodies or other causes of male infertility? Please contact an Ovation partner physician today.