Immunological Factor and Infertility
Recently, there has been a lot of discussion about the role that the immune system plays in fertility. The immune system generally works to protect the body from foreign cells and bacteria.
Sometimes though, problems within the immune system prevent it from working properly. Many couples facing infertility issues may actually have immune system dysfunction, which is preventing them from conceiving. Luckily, new tests are now available to pinpoint these immune factors in infertility.
What is the Immune System?
The immune system consists of a variety of cells and tissues that help to defend you against invading cells and foreign bacteria. It can recongnize the difference between your body's own cells and those cells that aren't meant to be inside of you.
Without your immune system, you couldn't fight off things like illness, pain, or infection. In most people, the immune system works properly all the time. Sometimes however, the system can break down, leaving you open to illness, infection, or various autoimmune diseases.
The Immune System and Fertility
Though you may not realize it, your immune system also plays a huge role in your fertility. In order to prepare for ovulation and implantation, your body needs to use certain cells from your immune system.
For instance, inflammatory cells are needed to help prepare the endometrial lining for implantation. Without a working immune system, normal reproduction can be affected, preventing pregnancy.
In fact, it is thought that up to 20% of couples with unexplained infertility are actually suffering from an immune system dysfunction.
What are Antisperm Antibodies?
Antisperm antibodies are one immune factor which could be involved in infertility. Antisperm antibodies are cells that fight against normal, healthy sperm.
If you have antisperm antibodies, instead of seeing sperm as natural cells, your immune system fights against your sperm and destroys them. This prevents you from producing any viable sperm. Though still to be proven, there is evidence that antibodies against sperm can result in male infertility.
How Do Antisperm Anitbodies Affect Fertility?
Antisperm antibodies can really impair the function of healthy sperm. These antibodies attach to your sperm, reducing motility and making it more difficult for sperm to pass through cervical mucus.
Antisperm antibodies can also force sperm to clump together, making it difficult for your sperm to fertilize an egg.