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Anti-Ovarian antibodies

Anti-ovarian antibodies (OA) that attack and remove healthy eggs and follicles in the ovaries are an aggressive Th1 autoimmune disorder. Low levels of anti-ovarian antibodies are routinely found in women’s blood (around 30% of healthy women have anti-ovarian antibodies in their blood samples), but these women have no problems conceiving or carrying to term.

However, high levels of anti-ovarian antibodies in the blood can cause problems with the ovaries, and 15-70% of women with premature ovarian failure have high anti-ovarian antibody levels. i The condition is linked to several fertility problems, mainly due to increased atresia (the death of follicles and eggs) during their recruitment towards ovulation:

  • Premature ovarian failure (POF). ii
  • Lower pregnancy success rates. iii
  • Reduced corpus luteum function.
  • Low progesterone levels in the luteal phase.
  • Poor response to IVF stimulation. iv

Testing and Treatment

Testing requires 1-2ml of the woman’s blood, and results are usually a simple positive or negative to being within normal range.

Standard treatment is usually with steroids (dexamethasone or prednisolone plus calcium).

Alternative herbal treatment has limited success for women testing positive to OA, with about 40% of 67 cases achieving normal values after three months of medicinal herbs.

iOvarian antibodies detected by immobilized antigen immunoassay in patients with premature ovarian failure, Luborsky J et al., Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 70(1):69-75.1990
iiOvarian antibodies, FSH and inhibin B: Independent markers associated with unexplained infertility, Luborsky J et al., Human Reproduction, 15(5):1046-51, 2000
iiiThe possible role of anti-ovarian antibodies in repeated in vitro fertilization failures, Geva E et al., American Journal of Reproductive Immunology 42(5): 292-6. 1999
ivPregnancy outcome and ovarian antibodies in infertility patients undergoing controlled ovarian hyperstimulation, Luborsky et al., American Journal of Reproductive Immunology, 44(5):261-265. 2000