Reproductive Immunology : Why Your Immune System May Prevent You from Getting Pregnant

Reproduction immunicatology is a field of immunology that focuses on the role that your immune system plays in your reproductive health. Immune intolerance can lead to devastating impacts such as fertility problems, recurrent miscarriages, and pregnancy complications.

During pregnancy, it is commonly believed that the female immune system is actively developing its tolerance to the semi-allogeneic fetus  (Tadokoro, 2012; Miko et al., 2019). A woman’s immune system is put on high alert during pregnancy because the fetus is half foreign to her body. However, in a healthy setting, her immune system will gradually increase its tolerance to the fetus. This maternal-fetal immunotolerance represents a real immunological challenge for the immune system of the mother (Tabarkiewicz, Selvan & Cools, 2018).

What Happens to Your Fertility When Your Immune System is Unhealthy

In a properly functioning immune system, a healthy immune cell can recognize the difference between a healthy and unhealthy embryo. This is important because the immune system can help a healthy embryo embed in the uterine (Alecsandru, 2018).

However, in the case of reproductive autoimmune disorders such as antiphospholipid syndrome (APS), your immune system could be working improperly. APS is a syndrome where your immune system creates antibodies that attack the placenta and can cause miscarriages, complications in your second trimester, premature delivery, or a stillbirth (Alecsandru, 2018).

In addition, if your immune system cannot differentiate a healthy embryo from an unhealthy one, there could be problems with implementation. An implementation may fail because of a genetic mismatch, or, if the embryo succeeds in implanting, it may not be strong enough which can result in a later miscarriage or other issues such as premature birth, preeclampsia, or stillbirth (Alecsandru, 2018).

Semen to the Rescue

The proteins in semen may help woman’s immune system prepare for conception and pregnancy.

Isn’t mother nature fascinating?

So, while semen is necessary to get you pregnant, it can also help you stay pregnant. There is substantial evidence that exposure to partner’s semen is a form of prevention against pre-eclampsia (Davis & Gallup 2006). If your sexual partner is male, keep having sex my friends! This can be a good step towards boosting your immune system!

You can also boost your immune system in other ways, such as supplements and, of course, acupuncture for immunity.

In either context, we will advise you further on this at your next session.

References

Alecsandru, D. (2018, May). Personal Interview with Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey. Source: https://www.rmanj.com/9-questions-reproductive-immunologist-diana-alecsandru/

Davis, J. A., & Gallup Jr, G. G. (2006). Preeclampsia and other pregnancy complications as an adaptive response to unfamiliar semen. Female infidelity and paternal uncertainty, 191-204.

Miko, E., Meggyes, M., Barakonyi, A., & Szereday, L. (2019). Immune checkpoint molecules in reproductive immunology. Frontiers in immunology, 10, 846.

Tabarkiewicz, J., Selvan, S. R., & Cools, N. (2018). Autoimmunity in Reproductive Health and Pregnancy. Journal of immunology research, 2018.

Tadokoro, C. (2012). The delicate balance between inflammation, conception and pregnancy. American Journal of Reproductive Immunology, 68(5), 363-365.