Antisperm Antibody Test
An antisperm antibody test looks for special proteins (antibodies) that fight against a man's sperm in blood, vaginal fluids, or semen. The test uses a sample of sperm and adds a substance that binds only to affected sperm.
Semen can cause an immune system response in either the man's or woman's body. The antibodies can damage or kill sperm. If a high number of sperm antibodies come into contact with a man's sperm, it may be hard for the sperm to fertilize an egg. The couple has a hard time becoming pregnant. This is called immunologic infertility.
A man can make sperm antibodies when his sperm come into contact with his immune system. This can happen when the testicles are injured or after surgeries (such as a biopsy or vasectomy) or after a prostate gland infection. The testicles normally keep the sperm away from the rest of the body and the immune system.
A woman can have an allergic reaction to her partner's semen and make sperm antibodies. This kind of immune response is not fully understood but may affect fertility. This is a rare cause of infertility.
Why It Is Done
The antisperm antibody test may be done if:
- A cause for infertility cannot be found. Experts disagree about the usefulness of the test because the result may not change the treatment.
- The results from another fertility test are not clear.
How To Prepare
Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean.
In general, there's nothing you have to do before this test, unless your doctor tells you to.
Your semen sample is collected after the blood and vaginal fluid samples are taken. You should not release your sperm (ejaculate) for 2 days before the test. It is important to not go longer than 5 days before the test without ejaculating.
How It Is Done
A health professional uses a needle to take a blood sample, usually from the arm.
A semen sample is collected by masturbation. You should urinate and then wash and rinse your hands and penis before collecting the semen in a sterile cup. You cannot use lubricants or condoms when collecting the sample. If you collect the semen sample at home, be sure to get it to the lab or clinic within 1 hour. Keep the sample at body temperature and out of direct sunlight. The sample cannot be collected by having sexual intercourse and then withdrawing when you ejaculate, because vaginal fluid may be mixed with the sperm.
How It Feels
When a blood sample is taken, you may feel nothing at all from the needle. Or you might feel a quick sting or pinch.
Collecting a semen sample does not cause any discomfort. If masturbation is against your religious beliefs, talk with your doctor.
There is very little chance of having a problem from this test. When a blood sample is taken, a small bruise may form at the site.
Usually there are no problems from collecting a semen sample.
The higher the level of antibody-affected sperm found in the semen, the lower the chance of the sperm fertilizing an egg.
Current as of: October 8, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Sarah Marshall MD - Family Medicine
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Femi Olatunbosun MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology
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