Sperm antibodies are something that many of us never think about until we have a hard time getting pregnant. In fact, there are many people that don’t even know that there is such a thing as a sperm antibody, but both men and women can have them. A sperm antibody is typically a protein in the body of a woman that attacks the sperm that enters her body. Though the sperm antibodies that most of us do hear of are in the woman’s body, there are also men who suffer from essentially the same thing, they have proteins in their semen that attack their own sperm.
Sperm antibodies attack sperm in a number of ways, but the outcome is usually the same, the sperm is not able to travel to the egg and fertilize it, resulting in pregnancy. A number of things may happen when sperm antibody meets sperm. First, the antibody usually attaches to the sperm and may impair movement so that the sperm cannot continue on to fertilize the egg as intended. Sperm antibodies may cause sperm to clump together so that any movement is not productive or fast enough to facilitate fertilization. The end result is usually that the sperm die or are not healthy enough once they meet the egg to result in pregnancy. Unfortunately, many couples simply do not know that such an antibody exists so they do not understand why they are not becoming pregnant.
An estimated 10% of couples experiencing infertility suffer from sperm antibody problems, though only 1% is not becoming pregnant for this reason only. Luckily, doctors can help couples work around the sperm antibody problem in most cases. Even for men and women who have a large number of sperm antibodies present, hope of becoming pregnant is still there. In vitro fertilization is typically necessary for couples that cannot overcome the sperm antibody problem, where a single sperm will be taken an implanted into a single egg, to avoid the possibility of the antibodies winning out.
Sperm antibodies are something that many couples deal with, but they are not a reason to give up on your dream to have children. Many people have fertility issues to deal with when trying to conceive, but keep trying, overcoming the problems will allow you to take that much more pride in achieving a happy healthy pregnancy when it finally does happen for you.