Autoimmune disease and infertility can impact fertility in both men and women, although the conditions are far more common in females.
Autoimmune disorders occur when the body’s own immune system malfunctions, setting off an inflammatory response aimed at healthy cells. Women with existing autoimmune conditions such as lupus erythematosus, Crohn’s disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis or any of the dozens of autoimmune diseases that have been identified, may be at a higher risk for infertility. Even women with no previous history of autoimmune disease can develop autoimmune issues that interfere with fertilization and implantation.
Autoimmune issues associated with both female and male infertility
There are a number of autoimmune conditions associated with infertility, including:
- Antiphospholipid syndrome – APLS – Women with APLS produce abnormal antibodies that cause clotting when they are exposed to other proteins in the blood. APLS can lead to recurrent miscarriage, placental development problems or separation and premature birth.
- Anti-sperm antibodies – Some men develop proteins that can damage or kill sperm. This is usually linked to testicular injury that occurs following a biopsy, vasectomy or infection.
- Premature ovarian insufficiency – Some cases of premature ovarian insufficiency are linked to autoimmune issues. Antibodies attack ovarian tissue and can damage the ovarian follicles and eggs.
Treating infertility caused by autoimmune issues
Women with pre-existing autoimmune diseases may be advised to conceive during a period of remission. Patients who have been diagnosed with APLS may be prescribed a regimen of aspirin and heparin or Lovenox to prevent clotting. All require careful monitoring. If treatment does not result in pregnancy, some couples may move to intrauterine insemination -IUI- or in vitro fertilization -IVF.
At Texas Fertility Center New Braunfels, Dr. Susan Hudson specializes in fertility treatments for couples who may have autoimmune issues.
Dr. Hudson sees and treats many infertility patients from San Antonio, New Braunfels and throughout South Central Texas. Take the first step—contact Texas Fertility Center New Braunfels today.