Anti-sperm antibodies

So we had our initial consultation at the fertility clinic the other day for our first round of IVF, during which they did a semen analysis on my husband. Since he'd already had this done at the beginning of all the investigations we didn't expect anything out of the ordinary, but to our surprise it came back showing 100% anti-sperm antibodies! The consultant was very positive about it as he said this will qualify us for ICSI straight away, but I just feel a little dejected. After two and half years of trying and a whole host of investigations all I wanted was an answer, but now it seems to have confirmed what I feared all along - that we will never get pregnant on our own. It's just put a bit more pressure than I would like on the IVF treatment. I'm also really annoyed they didn't pick this up in the first place as maybe we could have given it a shot on our own with natural treatments. I've been through so many investigations and been so angry with myself and my body, meanwhile he won't even take the fertility supplements!

I've been doing a lot of research on the internet and the outlook isn't great for natural conception, but I did see something about treatment with zinc sulphate. Does anyone know of any success stories with this?

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  • I'm Sorry! For the first year of investigation on us, they kept sending me off for tests, telling us to try a bit longer, etc. after a year (3yearsttc) they finally sent Hubby off for a semen analysis. 0 sperm. 0! It took him a few minutes to do his business in a cup, while I got prodded off and on for a year! Then he had to have operations, etc. but still, why couldn't they have tested him first?

    Frustrating isn't it?

  • Hi hoping-for-the-best. Sorry to read all of this, but I suppose you finally have a diagnosis and a way forward. With my medical hat on, I thought I would explain simply about sperm antibodies. They come into play when they are used to protect the body after coming under attack from alien cells and infection. This is what happens in about 10% of men who suffer with infertility problems. In their case it is usually caused by some infection such as mumps or chlamydia, and even follows a vasectomy reversal. In fact anything that upsets the testicles can cause it. What actually happens is that they do their job in protecting the sperm, but unfortunately, in many cases they cause the sperm to “clump” together. Imagine trying to run with 10 people holding on to you – well, this is like the sperm, they cannot swim properly to get to the egg. Steroid treatment is sometimes tried to improve the condition, but they carry serious side effects, so are rarely used. Generally, all that is needed is for the sperm sample to be washed in order to separate the sperm. They can then be used in an IVF cycle or perhaps ICSI if they can’t swim properly. Occasionally enough can be rescued to use in intra uterine insemination. It’s a huge worry for you both, but fortunately treatment is available. Regarding vitamin and mineral use. Try and encourage him to take a good quality multivitamin tablet a day, plus added zinc (up to 40mgs). Selenium (100-130mcgs) a day also. Zinc helps to repair body cells, and selenium can help with motility. Check how much is in the multivitamin, and then add to it. Obviously, nothing is certain, but they can’t harm him. I do wish you both well with your treatment when it starts. Diane

  • Thanks Diane, I appreciate the advice - I'll see if he's willing to take them. It's a bit of a blow for him as the motility, morphology and count are all above average parameters, but that's all meaningless when they can't do their job!

  • Hi hoping-for-the-best. That's quite true. However, remember that there are some that they will be able to be used in an ICSI cycle, which although you wouldn't normally have wished for that, it is a way forward to be able to use the decent sperm he is producing. Diane

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