FERTILITY TREATMENT Article · 8 August 2022

Immunologist’s role in fertility treatment

It would seem that there is nothing easier than conceiving a child. In fact, the path to the desired motherhood is not always a bed of roses. Before the couple reach their destination, they often have to make a stop in the office of a specialist. The role of the immunologist is significant. Why?

immunologist’s role in fertility treatment

The role of the immunologist is significant. Why? How can an immunologist help couple to conceive a child? The answers to these questions can be found in our article.


What does the immunologist do?


Generally speaking, an immunologist is a physician involved in the diagnosis and treatment of primary and secondary immunodeficiencies. However, because the immune system is involved in many processes in the body, the help of an immunologist is used by people struggling with various health problems. Of course, these are problems that can potentially have their origin in disorders of the immune system. Thus, patients after organ transplants, thyroid disease, bronchial asthma, allergic rhinitis as well as infertile couples benefit from the immunological consultation.


Immunological infertility is a more common problem…


Immune infertility is infertility in which the immune system of one of the partners is involved. Yes, exactly the one that is to be our ally in the fight against pathogens such as viruses, bacteria or fungi.


Both the female and male immune systems can be affected. A woman’s body can produce antibodies that will destroy, for example, her own eggs (autoimmune factor) or partner’s semen (alloimmune factor). In the second case, the woman’s immune system will treat the male sperm as foreign cells that need to be removed. In such a situation we can deal with the so-called “Hostile mucus” because sperm-damaging antibodies are found in the cervical mucus. The attack can also be targeted at the embryo itself. A woman’s immune system can treat him like an “uninvited guest” and eventually reject, just as he rejects an transplanted organ. When problems arise with conceiving a child or maintaining pregnancy, the autoimmune factor is unfortunately rarely included. This is a mistake, because according to statistics, immune disorders can account for up to 65-70% of habitual miscarriages.


It is worth noting that a man’s body can also produce antibodies directed against his own sperm. As a result, they won’t even get to the egg or they will, but fertilization will not happen.


Why do more and more couples have immunological fertility problem?


Scientists see the cause in a changing environment that our immune system is not able to fully adapt to. Over the past few decades, we have radically changed our environment and functioning. We live faster, we eat more and more processed food (full of preservatives, artificial colors and flavor enhancers), we also breathe polluted air. All this means that the immune system must work in completely changed conditions, which in turn has a negative impact on our health. We are getting more and more allergies and autoimmune diseases. So we can say that under the influence of all these drastic changes our body simply “breaks up”.


When should a couple visit an immunologist?


Above all, women with unexplained infertility who have endometriosis and who are prone to frequent respiratory or digestive infections should address the immunologist. Recurrent miscarriages, in vitro failure and the presence of an autoimmune disease will be another indication. Such diseases include RA (rheumatoid arthritis), lupus erythematosus or hypothyroidism.


Which tests are usually recommended by the immunologist?


Diagnosis of immunological infertility consists of a whole series of specialized tests. They are intended to determine whether specific autoantibodies exist in the body of the subject. The immunologist will know best what immunology tests to order to determine if the cause of partner infertility is due to a malfunctioning immune system.


Comprehensive diagnosis of immunological infertility includes, among others the following tests:

  • Anti-sperm antibodies test – ASA,
  • Anti-nuclear antibodies test – ANA,
  • Anti-ovarian antibodies test – AOA,
  • Anti-cardiolipin antibodies test,
  • β2 glikoprotein-I test (IGM, IGG),
  • Lupus anticoagulant test,
  • Anti- TPO antibodies test,
  • Anti-TG antibodies test,
  • Blocking antibodies test – ALLO MLR,
  • APAL polymorphism test in gene IGF2,
  • KIR and HLA-C,
  • NK cytotoxity assay test,
  • Immunophenotype test,Test for semen allergy.


The immunologist will most accurately interpret the results of the above tests and explain what they mean for infertile couples. On the basis of immunological mechanisms responsible for infertility, will also propose appropriate therapy – immunostimulation or immunomodulating treatment. It is worth adding that long-term treatment of immune disorders gives positive effects, increasing the chances of a couple conceiving a healthy child.

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