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Immunity and fertility. We tell you what the immune system and pregnancy have in common

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Immunity and fertility. We tell you what the immune system and pregnancy have in common

Infertility is most often associated with hormonal disorders, stress or an inappropriate lifestyle. The cause may also be the immune system. Therefore, we should perform tests for immunological disorders.

According to the Polish Gynecological Society it is estimated that in Poland about 1.5 million couples struggle with the problem of infertility. Immunological disorders are one of the less known causes of this condition, but more and more frequently diagnosed. According to the research of medical specialists, it is our immune system that may be the source of up to 12% of infertility cases.

Does immunity affect fertility?

The immune system is extremely important because it participates in various mechanisms that enable the proper functioning of the entire human body. Immunology deals not only with building immunity and preventing infectious diseases, but also (which many people are not aware of) infertility. Therefore, when the gynecologist and andrologist have already ruled out all possible causes of infertility, it is worth seeing an immunologist.

After excluding other causes of infertility, the gynecologist usually refers the couple to an immunologist. The specialist explains to the couple trying to have a child that abnormalities in the immunological parameters may not be responsible for the difficulties in conceiving a child or maintaining a pregnancy. The most important thing is an early gynecological and andrological diagnosis, because it becomes the basis for the treatment of infertility. When other causes of infertility are ruled out, it may be that immunological disorders have a significant impact (in about 60-70% of cases) on problems with pregnancy.

Miscarriages and immunology

Complications with getting pregnant can also result from recurrent miscarriages. Experts estimate that up to 70% of early pregnancies are terminated before implantation due to a spontaneous immune response. Some autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus or antiphospholipid syndrome are unfortunately associated with infertility or pregnancy loss. However, in the situation of recurrent miscarriages or repeated implantation failures, diagnostics for immunological causes is indicated.

What exactly is the immunological infertility?

Immune infertility is a type of infertility for which our immune system is responsible. And while it is a fact that as a rule the immune system is our ally and should protect us from potential threats, namely viruses, bacteria and the diseases they cause, this is sometimes not the case. People who have immune disorders develop abnormal reactions that impair the functioning of reproductive cells. This can eventually lead to disruptions in the fertilization process and miscarriages.

A woman’s ability to conceive and maintain a pregnancy depends largely on the immune system. This is because the immune system prepares her body to receive the embryo and its further development. And when these mechanisms are disrupted, it can lead to infertility or failure of IVF treatments and frequent miscarriages. Autoimmune disorders account for up to 90% of cases of immune infertility. When this situation occurs, then a woman’s immune system produces antibodies that attack her own egg cell.

Some women may also have a vicious immune system reaction, which results in the presence of anti-sperm antibodies. What specifically happens then? These antibodies regard the male sperm as the enemy and begin to fight against it, e.g. by inhibiting the progressive movement of the sperm, or by hindering penetration of the cervical mucus and implantation of the embryo in the uterus. As a result, fertilization does not occur or the risk of miscarriage increases.

Read also: Can drinking coffee affect female fertility?

Main photo: Yakobchuk Olena/ adobestock.com

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