Antibodies are cells in the immune system that attack invading cells like bacteria and viruses. However, antibodies can sometimes mistakenly attack cells that are supposed to be in your body too, causing problems. Such is the case with anti-sperm antibodies and anti-ovarian antibodies, which can cause infertility. Anti-ovarian antibodies interfere with ovulation and fertility by attacking the body's own cells.
There are different types of anti-ovarian antibodies and each type inhibits a specific function of the ovaries. The most common antibodies attack a woman's eggs and ovarian cells.
Anti-ovarian antibodies are found in small concentrations in as many as 30% of women, but due to such small amounts, they don't affect fertility. Up to 70% of women with premature ovarian failure have anti-ovarian antibodies in their bloodstream, and many women with unexplained infertility also have then in their blood. Women with Addison's Disease, thyroid disease, and endometriosis are also more likely to have anti-ovarian antibodies.
Infertility and Anti Ovarian Antibodies
Anti-ovarian antibodies have been linked to infertility because they exist in such high concentrations in infertile women compared to the rest of the population. It is thought that they may play a role in inhibiting ovulation and causing irregular ovulation. Anti-ovarian antibodies are also associated with poor implantation, poor response to hormone therapy, and higher rates of IVF treatment failure.
If you are having trouble getting pregnant, you may want to have an anti-ovarian antibody blood test. The test consists of taking a blood sample before it is sent to a lab for testing. If you test negative for antibodies, any infertility you may be experiencing is not due to anti-ovarian antibodies. If you test positive, anti-ovarian antibodies may be playing a role in your fertility problems. If you test positive for antibodies, your doctor may recommend drug treatment using either dexamethasone or prednisone.