An antisperm antibody test looks for special proteins (antibodies) that fight against 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. The antibodies can damage or kill sperm. If a high number of sperm antibodies come into contact with sperm, it may be hard for the sperm to fertilize an egg. This is called immunologic infertility.
A person's immune system can make antibodies that kill their own sperm. 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.
The immune system can also have an allergic reaction to another person'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.
The higher the level of antibody-affected sperm found in the semen, the lower the chance of the sperm fertilizing an egg.
Author: Healthwise Staff Clinical Review Board: All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.