The Immune System and Infertility
Immune dysfunction has been implicated in some cases of recurrent pregnancy loss, unexplained infertility and failed IVF cycles.
When the immune system is over- or under- activated, implantation may be compromised resulting in infertility or repeated pregnancy loss.
Immunological factors involved in adverse obstetrical outcomes and infertility may include the presence of anti-thyroid antibodies (ATA), anti-phospholipid antibodies (APLA) and activated natural killer cells (NKa).
Other immune dysfunction may be due to an immunological mismatch in DQ alpha and HLA genotypes or disorders called thrombophilias.
Thrombophilias are a group of disorders that increase the risk of clotting in the body and closely associated with recurrent pregnancy loss. Whether thrombophilias cause infertility or result in failed IVF cycles is still controversial.
Immune testing is not routine. But in cases of unexplained recurrent pregnancy loss, multiple failed IVF cycles with good embryo quality or true unexplained infertility, testing can be considered.
Treatment of immunological causes of infertility
At Footsteps to Fertility Centre, we offer an immunological consultation that focuses on immunological causes for an absence of pregnancy. We focus on your individual situation and analyse all the potential causes, such as genetic, infectious, endocrine, uterine and immunological abnormalities. After diagnosis, we give you our treatment recommendations.
For some patients, intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) in conjunction with the artificial insemination process has proven effective. If previous IVF-ICSI treatments are unsuccessful, we start with infusion treatment before inserting the embryo.
If a patient has suffered recurrent miscarriages without artificial insemination, we start treatment as soon as there is a positive pregnancy test and continue it up to the 24th week of pregnancy.
In our experience, pregnancy rates and birth rates increase significantly with immune therapy and it also significantly reduces the risk of another miscarriage in patients with a history of recurrent miscarriages.