What are Anti-Sperm Antibodies?
Are you and your partner struggling to become pregnant following vasectomy reversal surgery? Many factors affect the success rate of this procedure, including the potential development of anti-sperm antibodies. While this is a less common cause of male infertility, it’s still a factor worth exploring.
What are Anti-Sperm Antibodies?
Under normal conditions, sperm only exists within a man’s closed reproductive system. The tubules through which sperm travel don’t mix with other parts of the body. However, if sperm enters the bloodstream for any reason, the body’s immune system perceives the sperm as a foreign protein and produces anti-sperm antibodies in response.
Anti-sperm antibodies may cause sperm to clump together, reducing their ability to swim and subsequently reach the female egg. In rare cases, the antibodies can also cover the head of the sperm, rendering them unable to penetrate and fertilize the egg.
What Causes Anti-Sperm Antibodies?
In short, any time semen mixes with blood inside the body, anti-sperm antibodies are liable to form. Men may develop these antibodies for any of the following reasons:
- Vasectomy or other testicle surgery
- Tramatic testicle injury
- Prostate infection
Women’s reproductive systems can also produce anti-sperm antibodies if they have an allergic reaction to their partner’s semen. If present in the cervical mucus, these antibodies could damage or kill sperm as they enter the vagina. This condition is rare and not fully understood by the medical community.
Testing for Anti-Sperm Antibodies
An immunobead test (IBT) detects the presence of sperm-destroying antibodies in the blood, seminal fluid, or cervical mucus. Testing also indicates what part of the sperm is specifically affected. When performed on blood, an IBT can reveal whether the anti-sperm antibodies originate from the patient’s blood or reproductive system.
Because anti-sperm antibodies are relatively rare, and their presence doesn’t always cause infertility, your physician will likely review your medical history and conduct other tests before suggesting an IBT. Anti-sperm antibody testing should only be necessary if another cause of infertility can’t be found or the results of routine testing are inconclusive.
Treating Anti-Sperm Antibodies
While high levels of anti-sperm antibodies can make it difficult for some couples to get pregnant, their presence does not guarantee fertility issues. In fact, some findings suggest a low correlation between anti-sperm antibodies and the ability to conceive.
Still, if you’re having trouble getting pregnant, you may choose to pursue treatment for anti-sperm antibodies. Your options include immune response-lowering medication and assisted reproductive technology (ART), such as intrauterine insemination.
Dr. Joshua Green of the Center for Vasectomy Reversal is a leader in helping men overcome infertility problems. All infertility procedures we offer, including vasectomy reversal, are performed by a qualified surgeon using state-of-the-art equipment. Patients can expect concierge-level care and friendly staff interactions all along the way. To discuss your fertility concerns with Dr. Green, please contact our Sarasota, FL clinic at 941-894-6428 or schedule a free consultation online.
What is Postpartum Depression, and How Can You be There for Your Partner?
Carrying and delivering a baby causes a slew of hormonal changes in a woman’s body. At the very least, many new moms experience “baby blues” after giving birth, which may cause mood swings, anxiety, crying, and difficulty sleeping. Baby blues typically last no longer than two weeks.
Postpartum depression (PPD) is far more severe. This lingering mental condition is not a sign of weakness—it’s simply a complication of childbirth. If your partner experiences PPD, learn how you can be there for her during this difficult and emotional time.
Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
PPD may be mistaken for baby blues at first, but the symptoms are more debilitating and may last months if left untreated. The signs of postpartum depression include:
- Depressed mood or severe mood swings
- Excessive crying
- Difficulty bonding with the baby
- Withdrawing from social outings
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Low energy levels
- Unwarranted irritability or anger
- Fear of being a bad mother
- Feelings of guilt, shame, or worthlessness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Anxiety or panic attacks
- Thoughts of self-harm or hurting the baby
- Suicidal ideation
PPD in New Fathers
Between 2 and 20 percent of new dads experience postpartum depression as well, a condition known as paternal postpartum depression. Men with relationship issues, financial instability, a history of depression, or a partner with PPD are most at risk. If you’re a new father experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, talk to a healthcare professional.
How You Can be There for Your Partner
While postpartum depression is a mental illness that often requires medical treatment, you can do many practical things to help your partner recover. Here’s what we recommend:
- Help around the house.
- Prepare healthy meals.
- Reassure your partner that she’s a good mother.
- Tell her you’re proud of how hard she’s working, even though she feels terrible.
- Make yourself available by taking paternity leave or reducing your hours at work.
- Limit your time with extended family and friends.
- Answer her phone and take a message.
- Go with her to doctor’s appointments.
- Play the role of “listener” when she wants to talk about her feelings and struggles.
- Help her get more rest by dividing up nighttime parenting and letting her sleep in.
- Watch the baby so she can pursue a hobby or go out with a friend.
- Seek help from trusted adult friends and medical professionals so you don’t have to go it alone.
Even though you know postpartum depression and other complications are always possible, you may have made up your mind about becoming a parent. If you previously had a vasectomy, the first step is to have a vasectomy reversal. Dr. Joshua Green of the Center for Vasectomy Reversal is a leader in helping men become fathers. To learn more about having your vasectomy reversed, please contact our Sarasota, FL clinic at 941-894-6428 or schedule a free consultation online.
IVF vs. Vasectomy Reversal
Did you previously have a vasectomy to avoid unwanted pregnancies? What should you do if you and your female partner have decided you want to have kids together? There are two primary options for starting on the path to parenthood: in vitro fertilization (IVF) and vasectomy reversal. Consider what each process entails to help you make an informed decision.
How Does IVF Work?
In vitro fertilization aims to bypass all infertility problems by combining the woman’s egg and the man’s sperm outside the body. The resulting embryo is implanted into the woman’s uterus, where it will hopefully grow and develop into a baby.
When performing IVF after a vasectomy, a urologist must extract sperm surgically. This comes at a greater cost and higher risk than retrieving sperm naturally. Eggs must also be removed from the woman’s ovaries after delivering a cycle of hormones designed to stimulate the release of multiple eggs.
The risks associated with IVF are quite high. The mother and baby face the chance of serious complications, some of which may be life-long. The cost is also three to five times higher than vasectomy reversal surgery. Plus, IVF must be repeated with each failed attempt, often at a considerable emotional and financial cost.
How Does Vasectomy Reversal Work?
A vasectomy reversal is a restorative procedure design to reconnect the severed ends of the vas deferens, the tubes through which sperm travel from the testicles to the urethra. The procedure takes two to three hours to complete and should be performed by an experienced microsurgeon to reduce the risks and improve the chances of success.
If the procedure is successful, male fertility is restored, giving the couple a chance to conceive naturally without treating the female partner. A vasectomy reversal also makes it possible to have multiple children over the years without undergoing any further medical intervention.
Be aware that it can take several months after a vasectomy reversal for the female partner to become pregnant. Of course, even if sperm starts presenting in the ejaculate like normal, pregnancy depends on the female partner’s fertility as well. If she has contributing issues, IVF may be the only option after all.
Deciding Between IVF and Vasectomy Reversal
Every couple should consider what’s best for them when pursuing parenthood after a vasectomy. However, because of the costs and risks associated with IVF, a reversal with natural conception makes the most sense for a majority of couples.
We recommend starting your journey with a consultation at the Center for Vasectomy Reversal. Our highly skilled and experienced microsurgeon, Dr. Joshua Green, is a leader in vasectomy reversal surgery. All infertility procedures we offer are performed using a state-of-the-art, high-powered operating microscope. Our patients benefit from Dr. Green’s remarkable success rates and enjoy concierge-level care and friendly staff interactions every step of the way.
To discuss your infertility treatment options, please contact our Sarasota, FL clinic at 941-894-6428 or schedule a free consultation online.
Vasectomy Reversal Myths
As you contemplate whether a vasectomy reversal is right for you, you may stumble upon common myths about this surgical procedure. Dispel any misunderstandings before you meet with a microsurgeon about reversing your vasectomy.
Myth: A vasectomy reversal is as straightforward as a vasectomy.
Almost any doctor can perform a vasectomy, a short and relatively simple surgery that requires minimal training. However, a correctly performed vasectomy reversal is an advanced, technically challenging microsurgery lasting two to three hours. You should only trust an expert microsurgeon with years of successful reversals to increase the chance of success and lower the risk of complications.
Myth: All vasectomy reversals have the same chance of success.
Talk to your surgeon about what could affect the success of your surgery before deciding to have a vasectomy reversal. Factors may include:
- Sperm count and mobility
- Any development of anti-sperm antibodies
- Scar tissue following surgery
- Fertility of your female partner
- Length of time since your vasectomy
Myth: A vasectomy reversal must be performed within 10 years to have any chance of success.
If you had your vasectomy less than five years ago, there is a greater than 95 percent chance of sperm in the ejaculate. Surgeries performed five to 10 years ago have about a 90 percent chance, and if 10 or more years have elapsed, there’s an 80 to 90 percent chance. Experienced surgeons can perform successful reversals over 20 years after a vasectomy. (Note: pregnancy rates are lower than the percentages given here and depend on numerous factors.)
Myth: Pursuing IVF is better than having a vasectomy reversal.
While in vitro fertilization is a viable infertility treatment, it should not be your first choice. IVF costs three to five times more than vasectomy reversal surgery, and it comes with serious risks to the mother and baby—all with no guarantee of a successful pregnancy. With the costs, risks, and success rates in mind, a reversal with natural conception makes more sense for most couples.
Myth: Some vasectomy methods are not reversible.
It is extremely rare for a vasectomy to be performed in such a way that a microsurgeon cannot reverse it. The only time this can happen is if the original surgeon removes too much of the vas deferens, the tube that transports sperm from the testes to the urethra. In this case, there is nothing to reattach, and the reversal cannot be done. Again, this is very uncommon and can be ruled out prior to surgery via a physical exam.
Dr. Joshua Green of the Center for Vasectomy Reversal is a leader in microscopic infertility procedures. If you have decided to pursue parenthood, we can help. Dr. Green has completed hundreds of vasectomy reversal surgeries and takes great pride in his remarkable success rates. We’ll discuss your surgical options, costs, and the chance of success based on your specific situation. To learn more, please call our Sarasota, FL clinic at 941-894-6428 or schedule a free consultation online.
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