There are many causes and reasons for infertility in males, of which one of them is antisperm antibodies. A man suffering from antisperm antibodies generally gets sensitized to sperm, to cause an immune system that destroys the sperms found in the body.
In a normal man, a barrier in his testes protects the sperm from the immune system. However, those men with antisperm antibodies have a broken barrier wherein immune cells can easily access the sperm. With the unique antigen surface that is found on such sperms, the immune system detects its presence and thus triggers a response.
About 10% of infertile men suffer from antisperm antibodies and this is what interferes with the quality and function of the sperm. It is depending on the location of the antibodies that the sperm is affected. If the antibodies are on the tail, then the sperms are either immobilized or found clumped together. If they are found on the head, then the sperm is prevented from binding to the egg, and thus prevents fertilization from taking place.
There are various causes for antisperm antibodies developing, of which the main reason is the cervical mucus found in some woman. This cervical mucus tends to develop antibodies in the sperm and is the cause of about 40% of the unexplained infertility in couples. Even anything that disrupts the barrier found between the sperm and immune system like infection, injury to the testicles and twisting of testicles can lead to antisperm antibodies.
Other causes of antisperm antibodies are undescended testicles, testicular biopsy and cancer, varicocele and congenital absence of vas deferens. About 70% of men who had a vasectomy reversal have also been found to have antisperm antibodies.
Doctors can easily diagnose antisperm antibodies with an analysis of the man’s sperm and by analyzing the woman’s cervical mucus after sex for any antibodies. However, when diagnosed with antisperm antibodies, it is not easy to eliminate the antibodies. High doses of cortico steroids generally lower the number of antibodies to restore fertility temporarily. However, these high doses bring with it many serious side effects.
This is the reason couples who suffer from this condition usually turn to assisted reproductive technologies to conceive a baby. One of the techniques used here is washing the sperm before in vitro fertilization. With this, the sperm can produce fertilized eggs better for implantation. Sometimes, washing of the sperm is also used in intrauterine insemination.