Understanding anti-sperm antibodies

sperm antibodiesThere are a number of causes of infertility and a variety of reasons why someone might find it difficult to conceive. One of the stranger sounding, and actually quite scary reasons being touted, is the presence of anti-sperm antibodies. An antibody is a cell of the immune system that is created by the body to combat specific threats, normally bacteria and viruses. However, sometimes the body can create antibodies against molecules that are not a threat, and sometimes this can be damaging to health.

Why does the body do this? Well, that’s the million dollar question that scientists would dearly love to know the answer to. There are many theories, and they mostly point towards infections or other types of irritation.

Anti-sperm antibodies are proteins that attack and kill sperm cells. They have been heavily linked, but as of yet not totally proven, to reduce fertility. Both men and women can carry these cells, so if you’re having trouble conceiving, you should both get tested. Blood testing is the most common method of testing for antibodies in women, while in men it is done via a test of the sperm itself. If you do test positive for anti-sperm antibodies, there are treatment options available. Corticosteroids can help in reducing antibody levels, but do have side effects. For affected women, either intra-uterine insemination, or in-vitro fertilisation can be used to bypass the antibodies, which are generally found in the cervical mucus.

While the exact cause of the creation of anti-sperm antibodies is unknown, trauma to the testicular area has been heavily linked. This can be from, but is not limited to, infections, cancers, or surgeries, such as vasectomies and vasectomy reversals. Tests can be done before the operation, but as the operation may in fact cause the development of antibodies, it is not really relevant. The best option is normally just to go ahead with the procedure and cross that hurdle should it arise.

Having anti-sperm antibodies is not the end of the world. There are many treatment options available, and many, many people do in fact still conceive naturally without any treatment at all. Here at The Vasectomy Reversal Centre we will be happy to help you with any worries or queries you may have regarding vasectomy reversals.