Preliminary Male Fertility Tests - Immunobead Testing
An immunobead test (IBT) is a type of male fertility test that can help assess common male fertility problems. This preliminary male fertility test looks for the presence of antisperm antibodies, which can have a negative effect on the reproductive health of both men and women, thereby reducing fertility.
Antisperm antibodies are sperm allergies that develop when the immune system identifies sperm protein as foreign, leading to abnormal reproductive system functioning and reduced sperm health.
In men, causes of antisperm antibodies can result from infection, testicular biopsy, undescended testes and testicular cancer.
Antisperm antibodies attach to the sperm tail, thereby reducing sperm ability to travel through the cervical mucous. This hinders the process of fertilisation.
What is An Immunobead Test?
An immunobead test (IBT) evaluates the presence of antisperm antibodies. A male immunobead test assesses sperm from seminal fluid; a semen analysis test is also conducted as part of this type of preliminary male fertility test. A couple will also be given a blood test.
This male fertility test can also identify what part of the sperm is affected (head, mid-piece, tail or tail tip), as well as the class of antibodies (IgA, IgG) and the severity of antibodies that are present. AN IBT also determines the point of origin of the antibodies - that is, whether the antibodies derive from blood circulation or whether they are present in the reproductive organs.
Immunobead Test Results
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), having 20% of sperm bound with antibodies is not problematic; however, some in vitro fertilisation (IVF) centers consider this same percentage to be a cause for concern. A rate of 50% or more is considered to be detrimental to male fertility.
Male fertility treatment options include steroid therapy, collecting split ejaculate, and short periods of abstinence (typically over five days). Sephadex, Immunobead and Protease processing can also help to improve male fertility. Sperm washing can also help reduce the number of antibodies present.
Immunobead Testing in Women
In addition, an immunobead test can also be performed to assess the presence of antisperm antibodies in women and as such is also a preliminary female fertility test. In women, the presence of these antibodies hinder sperm movement, limiting sperm as it moves towards the cervical mucous in order to fertilize the egg.
A blood sample is used to detect antisperm antibodies, and like the male version of this test, can evaluate the point of origin of these antibodies. The blood sample is incubated with the sperm sample and sent to the lab for analysis.