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Getting 'immunised' against your partner

MagazineJuly 2000 (Vol. 11 Issue 4)Getting 'immunised' against your partner

Some infertility clinics use a treatment called immunotherapy to stop miscarriages where there may have been several in a row

Some infertility clinics use a treatment called immunotherapy to stop miscarriages where there may have been several in a row. This treatment is highly controversial. It is based on the theory that a woman needs to produce special blocking antibodies to prevent her body from rejecting the baby whose cells are different from her own. Normally, our bodies try to reject any cells that are not ours, and yet, 50 per cent of a baby's cells are the partner's.

If the theory is right, you may wonder why our bodies don't just reject the sperm to begin with, as they would any foreign object. It is thought that the immune system's normal level of activity has to be reduced slightly in order to 'accept' the growing baby.Immunotherapy treatment works like a vaccine and involves injecting the woman with her partner's blood to help her produce these antibodies. There are doubts as to whether the treatment actually works, and concern that it may cause sterility in some women, along with other problems such as transfusion reactions and hepatitis.


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