Immunobead Test (IBT)

Antibodies are often thought of as mechanisms that help prevent infection. Anti-sperm antibodies can actually work against the body by interfering with the reproductive process. In women, antibodies inhibit sperm movement as they make their way through the cervical mucous to reach an egg. In men, antibodies that attach to the sperm’s tail may also impede the sperm’s ability to travel.

Antibodies develop due to infections, trauma or other factors. To check for anti-sperm antibodies, healthcare providers might run an immunobead test (IBT).

Why It Is Done

An IBT can detect different kinds of anti-sperm antibodies in several biological samples, including blood, cervical mucous and on sperm cells. The test can indicate the class and the severity of the antibodies and what part of the sperm is affected. In a blood sample, an IBT can reveal whether the antibodies originate from contact with blood or around the reproductive organs.

How It Is Done

To detect antibodies, blood is drawn from the woman, incubated with a sperm sample and examined under a microscope in the laboratory. Sperm from a semen specimen can also be directly tested for antibodies.

Treatment

If anti-sperm antibodies are present, they can be treated in several ways. Depending on your case and goals of care, options include medications (if appropriate, depending on your diagnosis), intrauterine inseminations (IUI) with washed sperm or IVF with ICSI.


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