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What is Antisperm Antibody (ASAB) test? 

An ASAB test checks for the presence of antibodies produced by the body against sperm cells. Sperms are normally produced and stored in the testes, safe from the immune system. However, testicular injury, biopsy or surgeries may expose sperms to the immune system, leading to the production of anti-sperm antibodies that destroy sperm cells. 

These antibodies can also be produced in women who develop an allergic reaction to their partner’s sperm. Destruction of sperms makes it hard for such couples to conceive. The condition is known as immunological infertility. 

An ASAB test checks for the presence of anti-sperm antibodies in male semen and female blood sample to find out the cause of infertility. 

  1. Why is Antisperm antibody (ASAB) test performed?
  2. How do you prepare for an Antisperm antibody (ASAB) test?
  3. How is an Antisperm antibody (ASAB) test performed?
  4. What do Antisperm antibody (ASAB) test results mean?

Doctors order an ASAB test for the following reasons:

  • As a part of infertility screening test when the reason for failure to conceive is not apparent. If there are no abnormalities with the sperm and the mucus produced by the female body, then the doctor may want to check for the presence of ASABs
  • Doctors also perform this test when the results of other infertility tests are not clear
  • The test may help the doctor to suggest the appropriate treatment or therapy for promoting conception. It helps to make the choice between two methods - intrauterine insemination and intracytoplasmic sperm injection

In case a woman is undergoing the test, a blood sample is taken. Generally, no preparation is needed before a blood test. 

In case a man is undergoing the test, a semen sample is taken. Men should remember that there should be no sperm ejaculation 48 hours (two days) before the test. Though they should not go longer than five days before the test without ejaculating the sperm. 

Tell your doctor if you are taking any supplements or medications as some drugs interfere with test results. Also, talk to him/her if you have any further concerns regarding the procedure.

(Health checkup app)

For women

A nurse or technician will withdraw a small amount of blood from a vein in your arm using a sterile needle - you might feel temporary pain. The blood sample will be transferred to a sterilised vial and sent to the laboratory for analysis. After the test, some people feel lightheaded or notice bruising at the site of needle insertion. Though there is nothing to worry about, as both these symptoms go away on their own. If, however, the discomfort persists, check in with a doctor at the earliest. 

For men

The collection facility will provide you with a clean container to deposit a semen sample. You’ll be asked to urinate first and wash your penis and hands to ensure a clean sample. A semen sample is usually collected by masturbation. The sample cannot be collected using condoms, as it may interfere with test results. If you have any concern about the collecting process, please speak to your doctor about it. If you want to collect the sample at home, you must get it to the collection facility within one hour of depositing the sample. During transportation, it is essential to keep the sample close to body temperature and away from direct sunlight.

Normal results:

Normally, ASAB is not formed in the human body. Therefore, the normal result would be negative. 

Abnormal results:

Results of an ASAB test are said to be abnormal if anti-sperm antibodies found in the blood/semen sample. This would indicate the following:

  • Infertility due to antibody production in either partner
  • Vasectomy in men can sometimes be the cause of antibody production
  • Blockage in the male ducts called ‘efferent ducts’ which are present in the testes

Speak to your doctor to understand what exactly the results mean for you. Even if the test results are negative, there are assisted reproductive therapies available, which may help the couple to conceive a baby.

Disclaimer: All results must be clinically correlated with the patient’s complaints to make a complete and accurate diagnosis. The above information is provided from a purely educational point of view and is in no way a substitute for medical advice by a qualified doctor.

References

  1. Michigan Medicine: University of Michigan [internet]; Antisperm Antibody Test
  2. Wilson DD. Manual of Laboratory & Diagnostic Tests. 2008. McGraw Hill. Pp: 60.
  3. HealthlinkBC [internet] British Columbia; Antisperm Antibody Test
  4. Male Fertility Lab [Internet]. University of Washington. Seattle. Washington. U.S. Anti-Sperm Antibodies

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