Sperm Antibody Testing in Infertile Men
Six hundred male patients were examined for circulating spermagglutinating antibodies by the Kibrick sperm-agglutination test and 20% demonstrated autoantibodies. The high incidence of positive findings may be explained by the select population studied. Of 80 men tested who demonstrated more than 10% agglutination in their semen, but were otherwise normospermic, 41% demonstrated positive titers by the Kibrick method. Of 300 men examined for circulating sperm-immobilizing antibodies by the Isojima sperm-immobilizing test, 6% had autoantibodies. This high incidence of positive findings demonstrates the need for these tests in males who otherwise appear normospermic or demonstrate an unexplained infertility.
Sperm antibody testing is a vital component in the investigation of infertility. Men or women with high levels of sperm antibodies have significantly reduced fertility. In this laboratory we use the Immunobead Test (IBT), which enables us to specifically detect sperm-bound antibodies. The IBT was originally developed in this laboratory and is now recommended by the WHO. The highest incidence (about 70%) of positive results occurs in men who have had a vasectomy reversal.
Men can usually have the test done on the same sample provided for semen analysis. However, if the sperm count is low the test may need to be done on a blood sample.
Women can be tested for sperm antibodies in their blood (10 cc plain blood) or sometimes in their cervical mucus.
Sperm antibody testing
• Sperm antibodies in the blood of men or women do not affect fertility
• Antibodies on the head of the sperm can cause failure of fusion with the egg
• Spontaneous pregnancy rates are higher in couples without these antibodies, however, fluctuations are seen even without therapy. Also, since inseminations are used as treatment for both unexplained infertility and for sperm antibodies, many fertility specialists feel that the costs of this test are not justified.