How does a woman’s immune system impact her fertility? Can an immunological dysfunction cause IVF failure, implantation failure, or miscarriage. How is it diagnosed and treated? Host Dawn Davenport, Executive Director of Creating a Family, the national infertility & adoption education and support nonprofit, interviews Dr. Zev Williams, MD, PhD, Chief of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Columbia University Medical Center and Columbia University Fertility Center.

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Hit the Highlights
  • How does the human immune system work and how does it affect fertility and pregnancy?
  • Two types of immunological responses that may be involved with infertility: autoimmune and alloimmune (isoimmune).
  • How is the autoimmune system dysfunction involved with female fertility?
  • Is it suspected of being involved with implantation failure of euploid embryos?
  • What are Antiphospholipid Antibodies (APA), Antithyroid Antibodies (ATA/AMA), Activated Natural Killer Cells (NKa) and how can they affect fertility?
  • Is it possible to test for the presence of these antibodies or natural killer cells?
  • How is the autoimmune system dysfunction involved with miscarriage?
  • How do reproductive endocrinologists determine if a woman’s immune system is causing infertility, IVF failure, implantation failure, or miscarriage?
  • Is it possible to treat infertility or miscarriage caused by an autoimmune response in the woman?
  • Has research found that treatment for immunological issues improves live birth rates?
  • What is ACOG’s and American Society of Reproductive Medicine’s position on treatments for immunological disorders for women trying to get pregnant?
  • What are the risk factors that might indicate that a woman may have an autoimmune system problem that will cause infertility or miscarriage?
  • How do alloimmune (isoimmune) disorders potentially impact a woman’s fertility?
  • Is there research that has found that a woman’s body can reject her husband’s or partner’s sperm or be allergic to her husband’s or partner’s sperm?
  • Has research found that if the father’s HLA markers too closely match the mother’s HLA then pregnancy is less likely to occur?
  • How does a woman’s immune system impact embryo implantation?
  • What is the preferred treatment of unexplained IVF failure and recurrent pregnancy loss?
  • How to determine if an IVF cycle failed because of implantation failure?
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Image credit: University of Liverpool Faculty of Health & Life Sciences