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What is Reproductive Immunology?

Reproductive immunology refers to the field of medicine that studies the interactions between the immune system and the reproductive system, potentially impacting a couple’s chances to conceive.

Role of Immune System in Pregnancy

Normally, the role of the immune system is to fight off invading cells such as bacteria, viruses, or to reject alien tissues such as transplanted organs, that have a different genetic pattern to one’s own body. A foetus also has a different genetic pattern because it carries half the genes from the father. An embryo or early pregnancy is therefore at risk of rejection.  In pregnancy, a woman’s immune system is naturally modulated in such a way that it accepts the father’s genes. This is a very complex process and can sometimes go wrong leading to difficulty in getting pregnant or leads to miscarriage.

What treatments are offered and what are their possible side effects?

Certain treatments, including steroids, intravenous immunoglobulin, infusion of intralipids and some other immunological medications have been tried.  Only few of these treatments seem to be evidence based and work selectively. These treatments may also carry certain risks and side effects.

The Takeaway

In pregnancy, a woman’s immunity is highly modulated and complex, to be able to accept an embryo with half the genes from a different person (husband/ partner). This process can sometimes go wrong and lead to failed IVF treatment or later lead to miscarriage. There are few evidence-based treatments available that work selectively. At ART Fertility Clinics we have doctors with experience in use of immunological treatments for the right reasons, to improve your chances of having a successful fertility treatment.

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