Washington Center for Reproductive Medicine

Male Infertility

Antisperm Antibodies

Antisperm antibodies are immune-reactive particles produced by the body as a response against the proteins contained in sperm. The male may produce antibodies to his own sperm (rare) as a result of contact between blood cells and sperm, as through testicular trauma, varicocele, vasectomy, intercourse, or sometimes for unknown reasons.

The likelihood of a proven fertile male having antibodies is approximately 4%. The probability tends to increase significantly in males with infertility and in men who have had a vasectomy followed by a reversal some years later.

The female may also produce antibodies to her partner's sperm. In women undergoing an infertility workup, the incidence of antibodies against the husband's sperm appears to be higher.

Antisperm antibodies have harmful effects on sperm function and there are two main types: 1) those preventing motion and 2) those leading to cell (sperm) death. The presence of such antibodies is first suspected when performing routine semen analysis and sperm swimming behavior is noted to be erratic. Clumping of sperm may also be noted, although clumping of sperm by itself does not always indicate the presence of antibodies.

Also, repeated poor post coital test results may signal the presence of antibodies generated by the woman against sperm. Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is often effective in overcoming antibodies produced by the female. In an IUI cycle, the sperm a specially prepared and inserted directly into the uterus, thus bypassing the antibodies in the cervical mucus.













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