Immunological infertility: what are the antibodies to blame for?
There are serious disorders in the body that pass without pain, and they are not even suspected. Immunological infertility is one of such painless and hidden failures.
There is no such process in the body of a healthy man where the immune system would not be involved. This is an excellent barrier that protects a person from external influences. Immunological infertility is a hyperimmune process, the immune system in this case perceives all cells as foreign, including spermatozoa, and rejects them. Because of this, the egg is not fertilized, and pregnancy does not occur.
Causes of immunological infertility
A disease of this kind is also called autoimmune infertility. The cells of the human body begin to react to their own cells and damage them. In this case, specific antisperm antibodies are isolated.
In 10-30% of infertile couples, the cause of infertility was antisperm antibodies. They are produced by both women and men. Being in seminal plasma, cervical and intrauterine mucus, vas deferens and blood serum, they block spermatozoa on the way to the egg.
Antisperm antibodies exist of the following types:
A distinctive feature of antibodies is the ability to attach to different parts of the sperm, thereby damaging it and immobilizing it. For example, IgA and IgG are attached to the tail or head of the sperm, and IgM is only in the tail area.
The presence of antisperm antibodies in the body is an immunological aspect of infertility and adversely affects the conception of a child. They reduce the movement of spermatozoa, cause poor penetration into the cervical mucus, affect the maturation and delivery of the male germ cell to the female, negatively affect the process of penetration into the egg.
The causes of immune infertility in men is an increased level of these antibodies, which occurs through:
- injuries and damage to the reproductive organs;
- various surgical interventions on the genitals;
- infections and inflammations (prostatitis, orchitis, epididymitis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV);
- congenital anomalies of the genitals (varicocele, testicular torsion, cryptorchidism, funiculocele);
- unprotected anal sex.
All this adversely affects the natural amount of antisperm antibodies. This is one of the main causes of immunological infertility in men.
It is interesting that antisperm antibodies are present in every person, only in low amounts, and the norm is their content of 0-60 units /ml.
It happens that autoimmune infertility is determined by a system of genes (HLA) present on the sixth chromosome of a person. In this case, activation occurs by immunocompetent cells, that is, by the immune system.
There are special mechanisms that prevent spermatozoa from being rejected:
- the hemato-testicular barrier of the testicle and appendage – in men;
- a drop in the level of T-helpers and an increase in T-suppressors during ovulation, as well as a decrease in the Ig component – in women.
The destruction of these barriers leads to the non-acceptance of sperm and the inability to conceive.
Experts have collected all the known causes leading to the immunological factor of infertility:
- infections of the genital tract;
- chronic inflammatory male and female diseases;
- excess lymphocytes in the seminal fluid;
- disorders of the endocrine system, which leads to improper hormone production;
- incompatibility of an immunological nature, allergy to sperm;
- damage to the genitals, trauma, surgery;
- diseases of the cervix;
- anatomical congenital or acquired disorders of the vas deferens;
- rare sexual life, which leads to sperm defects;
- the use of chemical and hormonal contraceptives;
- sex life with several partners at once, this affects the ingress of proteins of different antigens;
- penetration of sperm into the gastrointestinal tract during anal and oral sex;
- unsuccessful IVF procedure.
The cause of immunological infertility can be either one of this list, or several factors.
The most dangerous and severe diseases are those that occur without any symptoms. Male immunological infertility proceeds without visible signs, erectile function and prolonged sexual intercourse remain the same.
The main symptom of autoimmune infertility is the absence of pregnancy for more than a year with a systematic menstrual cycle in a woman and regular sexual life without contraceptives.
Diagnosis of immunological infertility
If there is no pregnancy for a long time, it is worth thinking about the presence of childlessness of the immunological aspect.
To begin with, exclude all other factors of infertility and approve the diagnosis. First, blood tests are taken, sperm is checked on a spermogram, smears are removed from the genital tract
It is very important for men to pass such diagnostic tests:
After different diagnostic methods, the cause of infertility may not be found, this suggests that it is worth reviewing the psychological factor. There are cases of infertility of unknown origin. The above-listed tests make it possible to exclude other causes of childlessness and confirm the diagnosis of immunological male infertility.
The treatment of immunological infertility begins from the elimination of the causes cited above. For men, there will be surgeries or other interventions to eliminate defects in the reproductive system. This is a long and multi-level process, you need to be patient.
For 8 months, the couple should be protected to avoid contact of the sperm with the immune cells of the woman, this reduces the reaction of her body to male germ cells. Thus, the number of antigens decreases.
There are such methods of treatment:
It is important that even after eliminating all the causes, the development of antisperm antibodies does not stop. Treatment of immunological infertility by ICSI allows fertilizing an egg despite the presence of antibodies.
Androgens are prescribed to a man from drugs – these are steroid male sex hormones, in order to strengthen the work of spermatozoa, increase their productivity. The use of immunomodulators allows you to regulate the immune system, in this case, to suppress its work. Hormonal medications are also used to normalize the hormonal background.
Experts say that it is possible to avoid immunological infertility in men if you exclude all the unborn causes of their occurrence, and these are inflammations, sexual infections, accidental sexual partners, beware of scrotum injuries.
It is important to take into account all changes in the body in a timely manner in order to eliminate them in time. Monitor your hormonal background, because it directs all functions and systems in the human body. Do not make unreasonable surgical interventions.
It will not be superfluous to adhere to a healthy lifestyle, put your diet and physical fitness in order.
Unpleasant is the fact that 20% of married couples do not become parents through immunological infertility. This is a long period of treatment, and according to statistics, couples do not always manage to achieve a positive result. High-quality prevention of this disease by both partners is of great importance. Perhaps you should think about changing your sexual partner, this will ensure a long-awaited pregnancy.
It is not necessary to solve this problem by yourself with the help of traditional medicine. Most likely, this can only make things worse and make the situation worse. Modern methods of assisted reproductive technology are only developing and the percentage of their effectiveness is only increasing.