Effect of sperm antibodies on pregnancy outcome in a subfertile population

Steven S. Witkin, Sami S. David

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The relationship between sperm antibodies, conception, and miscarriage was examined in 109 infertile couples. Antibodies present on the surface of husbands' ejaculated sperm and antibodies in husbands' or wives' sera that reacted with a purified population of the husbands' motile spermatozoa were detected by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. During an 18-month period, conception occurred in 33 (30.3%) of the couples; 16 (14.7%) women subsequently suffered a spontaneous miscarriage during the first trimester, whereas 17 (15.6%) women maintained their pregnancies past this time period. Antisperm antibodies were present in sera from only two of 17 (11.8%) women with successful pregnancies, whereas seven of 16 (43.8%) women who miscarried and 29 of 76 (38.2%) who did not conceive had these antibodies in their sera. IgG (22.4%) and IgM (21.1%) antisperm antibodies predominated in sera of women who did not conceive, whereas IgA (37.5%) and IgG (37.5%) antibodies were most prevalent in sera of women with miscarriages. In men, the presence of antisperm antibodies in sera was unrelated to fertility. However, there was a correlation between sperm surface antibodies and an inability to conceive. IgG was identified on ejaculated spermatozoa from eight of 76 (10.5%) men whose wives failed to conceive and in none of 33 men whose wives conceived. Similarly, IgA was present on spermatozoa from 16 (21.1%) infertile and two (6.1%) fertile men. Thus antisperm antibodies in female sera and on ejaculated spermatozoa were associated with a failure to conceive and first-trimester miscarriage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-62
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1988


  • Sperm antibodies
  • infertility
  • miscarriage
  • semen


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