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Antisperm Antibody Test

Test Overview

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.

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.

Blood test

In general, there's nothing you have to do before this test, unless your doctor tells you to.

Semen sample

Your semen sample is collected after the blood and vaginal fluid samples are taken. You should not release your sperm (ejaculate) for 2 to 5 days (but no longer than 1 week) before the test.

How It Is Done

Blood test

A health professional uses a needle to take a blood sample, usually from the arm.

Semen sample

A semen sample is collected by masturbation. Before you collect the sample, you will urinate and then wash and rinse your hands and penis. Then you will collect the semen in a sterile cup. Do not use lubricants or regular condoms when collecting the sample. If you'd prefer to collect the sample without masturbating, your doctor may give you a special condom to wear during sex to collect the semen.

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.

How It Feels

Blood test

When a blood sample is taken, you may feel nothing at all from the needle. Or you might feel a quick sting or pinch.

Semen sample

Collecting a semen sample does not cause any discomfort.

Risks

Blood test

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.

Semen sample

Usually there are no problems from collecting a semen sample.

Results

The higher the level of antibody-affected sperm found in the semen, the lower the chance of the sperm fertilizing an egg.

Credits

Current as of: October 8, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review:

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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