Seeing a Reproductive Immunologist is not something that most people consider, or have even heard of. The practice is sometimes frowned upon by Reproductive Endocrinologists (what we typically refer to as fertility doctors).
The thing about it is, it’s still considered to be a relatively new practice with a bit of a dicey history.
At this point, we know that immune system dysfunction has been identified as a likely contributor to endometriosis, infertility, recurrent pregnancy loss, preeclampsia, and preterm delivery.
However, the amazingly complex nature of immune system function makes reproductive immunology an incredibly difficult field to understand, for clinicians and scientists, leading to skepticism and misinterpretation of data.
For women who have had no success with traditional fertility treatments, it’s a source of hope when there is no answer either as to why they aren’t able to get pregnant or why they can’t sustain a pregnancy.
Demystifying Reproductive Immunology
Reproductive immunology focuses on the maternal immune system.
The belief is that the female immune system could have an impact on implantation, as well as the growth and development of the fetus.
Basically, your immune system could see the growing baby as an attack on the immune system like a bacterial or viral infection.
Your immune system then reacts as it would to any infection and tries to eliminate it, either causing a failure to implant or miscarriage.
Immune function is not typically something that a Reproductive Endocrinologist (again, typically referred to as fertility doctors) treats, which is why for some women, there is a potential need to also see a Reproductive Immunologist.
Often times, Reproductive Endocrinologists will work with Reproductive Immunologists remotely, as there aren’t nearly as many Reproductive Immunologists in any one location as there are Reproductive Endocrinologists.
Of course, as I said earlier, most Reproductive Endocrinologists won’t refer you to Reproductive Immunologists, as it’s not common practice, so this might be something you have to seek out on your own.
As I’ve always said, be your own advocate and make sure you’re getting the best care you can. This is your journey.
Tests and Treatments
Most facilities will order Antiphospholipid antibodies (APA) and lupus anticoagulant on patients with recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL).
Other immune tests may be ordered relating to embryo toxic factors and natural killer cells.
Antisperm antibodies, whether cervical, seminal, or plasma, would also likely be ordered in the majority of patients.
As for treatment, the majority of physicians will initiate some form of anticoagulation therapy for patients who tested positive for APA. Many also treat patients with antithyroid antibodies.
The most common treatments are aspirin and steroids, either alone or in combination.
Additional intravenous therapies may be administered when abnormal natural killer cell activity is indicated.
When All Else Fails
When all else fails and you’re at your wits’ end with fertility treatments or the doctor(s) that have been treating you, this may be an avenue you want to consider.
Yes, there is still so much that we are learning about this field, but it has shown positive progress and has helped many women.
If you suspect that there may be something more than what your doctor has been able to find so far, consider looking for a Reproductive Immunologist.
Again, there may not be one located locally, but many are willing to do remote consultations and will work with your local doctors to test and treat you.
 Article: Reproductive Immunology: Checkered Past and Bright Future https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5010996/
 Article: Immunological testing and treatment in reproduction: frequency assessment of practice patterns at assisted reproduction clinics in the USA and Australia. https://academic.oup.com/humrep/article/16/10/2130/2913354
So now that you’ve read this article, you can put what you’ve learned here into practice immediately and increase your chances of getting pregnant.
Resource 1: Take our Fertility Quiz
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The information in this document has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease.