Anti-Ovarian Antibodies

If you have chosen to undergo fertility treatment, you will probably be offered a wide range of tests to help determine what type of treatment will be best for you. The Anti-Ovarian Antibodies test is used to detect levels of certain antibodies in the bloodstream.

Some women with fertility difficulties appear to have high levels of this particular antibody in their blood. If you are worried about anti-ovarian antibodies, ask your reproductive endocrinologist about this test.

What Are Anti Ovarian Antibodies?

Anti ovarian antibodies belong to a group of cells found throughout the bloodstream. These cells are called "antibodies" because they actually work against certain functions of the ovaries.

Typically, antibodies are used by the body to fight against invading bacteria and cells. Sometimes, however, the body becomes confused and mistakes it own cells for invading ones. This is the case with anti ovarian antibodies. Anti ovarian antibodies are thought to interfere with ovulation and fertility.

Types of Anti Ovarian Antibodies

There are a number of different types of anti ovarian antibodies. Each type works against a specific function of the ovaries. The most common antibodies are those against the eggs (ova) and ovarian cells.

Who Has Anti Ovarian Antibodies?

Anti ovarian antibodies are often found in small amounts throughout the general population. About 30% of normal, healthy women have the antibody. However, anti ovarian antibodies are found in very small amounts in these groups, and do not interfere with ovarian function.

Anti ovarian antibodies are typically found in women with premature ovarian failure. Up to 70% of women with this condition have large amounts of anti ovarian antibodies in their bloodstream. Large numbers of women with unexplained infertility also have anti ovarian antibodies in their blood.

Anti ovarian antibodies are also found in people with:

  • Addison's Disease
  • thyroid disease
  • endometriosis

Infertility and Anti Ovarian Antibodies

Recently, anti ovarian antibodies have been linked to female infertility. Because so many infertile women have high levels of the antibodies, it is thought that they must play a role in inhibiting ovulation. It appears that the antibodies are responsible for causing irregular ovulation.

Research has also shown that anti ovarian antibodies are associated with: 

  • poor implantation
  • higher rates of IVF treatment failure
  • poor response to hormone therapy

Anti Ovarian Antibody Test

If you are having difficulties conceiving, you might consider having an anti ovarian antibody test. The test is simple, and only requires a small blood sample. This blood sample is then sent to a laboratory for testing.

The Results

Test results for the anti ovarian antibody test are classified as either positive or negative. If you are negative for the antibodies, then your infertility is probably not due to anti ovarian antibodies. If you test positive, then anti ovarian antibodies may be playing a role in your fertility issues.

After the Test

If you test positive for anti ovarian antibodies, be sure to discuss the results with your health care provider. She will be able to recommend a course of treatment. The most common treatments are with the drugs dexamethasone or prednisone.


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