Saturday, March 02, 2013

Does HLA sharing cause pregnancy losses ?

I recently heard from one of my friend who is going through IVF to have her child. In the course of her treatment , she went through two pregnancy losses, one at 12 weeks and one at 5 weeks. As usual, a battery of tests were performed on her by her IVF specialist to find out where the fault lay- why did the miscarriage happen ? Of the several tests performed on her, two tests came back positive. She was told her NK cells in uterus are elevated ; and that her HLA haplotype (what the heck is that?) was very similar to her husband's. On seeing her results, her doctor told her that it was a waste of time and energy in trying to get pregnant via IVF. He told her that she would never succeed in carrying a baby to term ; and that she needs a surrogate to carry the baby.

This was a great shock for a woman who was already going through hell in order to have a baby ? Going through IVF is a physically and emotionally draining pursuit. Facing a miscarriage after successful IVF is heart-wrenching. In this situation, how will you react when you are told that there are some killer cells in your uterus which are waiting to devour your precious embryo ? How would you feel when a doctor tells you that you share so much in common with your husband that you cannot carry a baby to term ? Normally, when someone tells you that you have something in common with your partner , you feel happy , but now there is a person telling you that too much sharing means that your joy of having your baby is at stake.

These kinds of diagnoses steal your confidence and the trust you have in your reproductive system and your ability to carry a baby!) . They make you miserable, as you do not know do what to do next. I am sure many of us are completely clueless about what HLA is and what natural killer cells (scary name !) are - I was , even though I am a biologist In fact I bet that most doctors who perform such complicated tests on you will be unable to explain to you what HLA is ; and how it is connected to miscarriages !If you insist on knowing more, you will be provided with a pamphlet which is full of Greek and Latin.

If you want to make more sense of HLA testing, read more at

This is an excerpt from our forthcoming, book, The Expert Patient's Guide to IVF. This being authored by our expert patient, Manju and me.

 You can email Manju at [email protected]

Her blog is at

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