Autoimmunity to sperm developed in two-thirds of men within 1 year after vasectomy as measured by sperm agglutinating and sperm immobilizing antibody tests. Sperm antibody responses to vasectomy were greater in younger than in older men. A direct relationship was apparent between increasing incidence of sperm immobilizing antibody and genetic predisposition to autoimmune disease. Some vasectomized men developed immune responses to autoantigens other than spermatozoa. Increased antithyroglobulin activity was evenly divided between patients who formed sperm antibody and those who did not. Antinuclear activity was more frequent in patients who were sperm antibody responders.
PIP: A prospective study of the immunological responses to vasectomy was conducted on 194 vasectomy patients with blood samples taken before the operation and approximately 6 weeks and 1 year postvasectomy. Sperm agglutinating and sperm antibody tests revealed an immunological response in 64% of the men at 6 weeks and/or 1 year postvasectomy. This response was greatest in the youngest men and in those with a genetic predisposition to autoimmune disease. Incidence of antithyroglobulin activity increased from 8% prevasectomy to 11% by 6 weeks and 12% by 1 year postvasectomy. In 78% of the patients, antinuclear antibodies increased (this occurred more frequently in men with sperm antibody responses to vasectomy). Continued prospective study of the stress that vasectomy imposes on the immune systems of healthy men through the chronic autoantigenic stimulation which the procedure initiates is necessary to determine the success of such an immunological adaptation in different individuals.