Immunologic Infertility

Men can develop an immunologic response, (antibodies) to their own sperm. The causes for this may include testicular trauma, testicular infection, large varicoceles or testicular surgery. Although the mechanisms causing the production of anti-sperm antibodies are still unclear, the antibodies definitely have a negative effect on fertility. Scientific studies found several key areas leading to fertilization which are disrupted by anti-sperm antibodies: penetration of the partner's cervical mucus; binding with the external membrane of the egg; and fusion with the membrane of the egg itself. In Western medicine infertility treatment, the commonest way of dealing with anti-sperm antibodies is to inject sperm directly into the egg (ICSI) instead of using conventional in vitro fertilization. A more controversial treatment involves treating the man with corticosteroids. This treatment can have serious side-effects, including severe damage to the hip joints. The Chinese medicine patterns which are seen in men who have been diagnosed with immunologic infertility include kidney yin deficiency, kidney deficiency, damp heat accumulation, and stasis blockage. The patient's symptoms are differentiated into a pattern (or patterns) and treated with acupuncture and Chinese herbs accordingly.