It appears there are a large number of women who have infertility problems that are due to undiagnosed celiac disease. In fact, some estimates go as far as to say that 10% of women who can’t get pregnant may be gluten intolerant.
I was recently made aware of this by some members in the Gluten Free Club. Two young women and an older woman were discussing the problems they’ve had getting pregnant and it appears the problems were due to having celiac disease. Of course, when I hear an issue related to gluten intolerance being discussed, I have to follow up with more research.
As you probably know by now, there are dozens of symptoms related to gluten intolerance. Some of those symptoms are related to menstruation and pregnancy. For example, menstrual cycles may end early or be irregular. Other possible symptoms include the following.
• Early menopause
• Delayed menopause
• Irregular menstrual cycles
• Unexplained Infertility
In fact, there are many symptoms men may experience also as a result of having Celiac disease.
• Reduced sperm count
• Reduced hormone levels
The sad part of this story is that women with gluten intolerance have a much higher rate of miscarriage until they discover the problem. In many cases, once the gluten intolerance is diagnosed and the diet is changed to exclude gluten, the problems with infertility and miscarriage disappear. This doesn’t happen over night though. It can take anywhere from 9 months to two years on a gluten free diet before the woman is able to get pregnant.
There is still a lot of research to be done concerning this subject. The medical community still hasn’t been able to identify exactly why the gluten intolerance is causing the infertility or miscarriages. The information to date relies more on correlation – a higher percentage of women with Celiac disease have reproductive and pregnancy related problems. The problem is that many women could be helped if they were only able to discover they have gluten intolerance and knew how important it is to begin a gluten free diet.
The key point to consider right now, until further research is done, is to consider being tested for gluten intolerance if you have unexplained infertility. If you’ve tried everything else and have had all the tests, but still have reproductive system problems, it’s worth the effort to be tested for Celiac disease. With the widespread existence of Celiac disease, it’s quite possible that the gluten protein is causing the entire reproductive system to work improperly. Some day, science will learn exactly why this is true.
My friends in the Gluten Free Club each had different stories, but they are significantly ahead of the game. They already know they are gluten intolerant and by sticking to their diet they are well on their way to overcoming their infertility problems.