Antiphospholipid Antibodies

Idiopathic or unexplained infertility is an unpleasant diagnosis to receive. You feel that the doctors have run out of conditions and issues to look for, and your desire to have a baby is as strong as ever. What are your options?

If standard fertility treatments are not generating results, it may be time to have your blood analyzed. There can be antibodies in the bloodstream that work against conception. One important test to have is the antiphospholipid antibody screen, which is indicated in women who have had recurrent miscarriages or implantation failures.

Foreign Invaders

Antibodies exist to help us fight off foreign invaders such as cold germs. But sometimes the body misreads its own cells as invaders and attacks these body cells causing all manner of trouble. Antiphospholipid antibodies are proteins in the bloodstream that sometimes bind to the membranes of the cells. When this happens, the cell membranes become sticky and prevent the flow of blood. This can result in blood clots. Such antibodies can be a serious problem for a mother and her baby.

The antiphospholipid antibody screen tests for all 21 different types of this protein. But tests have been developed to test for some of the individual types of these antibodies. Among the most important antibodies are anticardiolipin, antinuclear, and lupus.

While these antibodies can cause some serious problems, it is estimated that 2%-5% of healthy people have these antibodies in their blood. But healthy people tend to have very low levels and so experience no problems. The antibodies only cause difficulties when they are present in the blood at high levels.

Compromised Placenta

One of the complications found with high levels of antiphospholipid antibodies is unexplained fertility. This includes specific infertility complications such as high rate of IVF failure, implantation failure, placental insufficiency, stillbirth, and recurrent miscarriage. Experts believe that these antibodies can cause clotting in the placenta so that the embryo can no longer receive nutrients and oxygen. The result of this situation can be spontaneous miscarriage or even fetal death. Implantation may also be an issue in the case where clotting has compromised the placenta.

The results of the APA test will be considered normal, borderline, or high. High levels will measure at somewhere between 1:100 and 1:400. If high levels of these antibodies have been found in your bloodstream, your physician will advise you that this is a probable factor in your infertility.

Treatment for high levels of antiphospholipid antibodies is meant to reduce clotting in your blood so that blood flow to the placenta is unimpeded. Two traditional treatments for dissolving clots are low-dose aspirin and the anticoagulant known as Heparin.