Infertility: The Role of the Immune System

Your immune system can play a role in fertility. You could have an immune system that is quite hostile and attacks anything it might deem as foreign. Although it is supposed to guard our bodies, it can turn against us at the most untimely intervals.

The immune system is designed to take care of your body. Your Lymphatic system’s job is to attack any foreign bodies such as viruses or bacteria. It has a multi-layer defence that fights invading microbes and foreign intruders. It can distinguish between normal cells and alien cells. It can trigger an inflammatory response and it can retain the memory of a foreign body and repel it again when it returns. The immune system can break down though, and this can leave us vulnerable to infection. Alternatively, it could turn against our own healthy tissue. This is evident in diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.

The dysfunction of the defensive system of the body could result in infertility when it interferes with the normal reproductive process. An immune factor could be involved in about 20% of couples who have otherwise unexplained infertility. Although many of these associations with infertility are still unproven, there is evidence that the formation of antibodies against sperm is an important infertility factor.

In rare cases, the immune system might attack anything that does not occur in the body normally. A male’s immune system could create antibodies for his own sperm. In this case, the sperm is mistaken for an invading pathogen so they are actively sought to be destroyed. This obviously has an effect on fertility. In some instances the anti-sperm antibodies could prevent the sperm from properly travelling through the woman’s cervical mucus. This could impair the sperm from fusing to the egg. Plus it could inhibit the sperm’s ability to penetrate the egg. Although this is rare, it is important to note that some men are more at risk of developing antibodies. This could happen after a vasectomy reversal or if surgery has taken place on the male genitals but it could also be related to previous infections or surgery.

The immune system has a big role to play in our lives and we don’t expect it to inhibit our chances of becoming pregnant, however this could be a possibility. Go to a fertility clinic to find out if your immune system is hindering your fertility and what the options available to you are.

BioART Fertility Centre offers a unique experience in fertility treatment. We have a long history of state of the ART fertility care delivered with a personal touch. Each and every patient is treated as a unique couple with individual problems and needs. We combine a dignified and compassionate approach with state-of-the-art, advanced reproductive technologies.