Celiac Disease

The effects of Celiac Disease on women’s and men’s fertility

Celiac Disease – more commonly known as gluten intolerance – is an autoimmune condition characterized by surface damage to the small intestine caused by eating gluten – a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and other grains. Damage to the intestine may also cause problems with the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. This disease has many different symptoms, such as stomach cramps, bloating, fatigue, and diarrhea. It has also been implicated in fertility issues for both men and women.

There is some evidence that this condition may impact women’s fertility by causing problems with ovulation – without which, pregnancy cannot occur. Girls with active Celiac Disease may begin their periods later than normal. Women of reproductive age living with untreated Celiac Disease may experience amenorrhea (the cessation of a woman’s menstrual period) and enter menopause early (i.e., stop ovulating earlier than expected). Although it is still unclear why there may be a link between ovulatory problems and this disease, some researchers suggest that malnutrition and endocrine dysfunction may play a role.

For men, active Celiac Disease may result in abnormally low testosterone levels and abnormalities in sperm, such as reduced sperm count and impaired motility. Like women, the relationship between Celiac Disease and fertility problems in men is unknown, but may be related to the malabsorption of nutrients, as well as androgen resistance.

If you are experiencing difficulties getting pregnant and are gluten intolerant or have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease, you may want to discuss this with your doctor. The good news is that once your Celiac Disease is under control, difficulties with fertility and reproduction typically resolve.

Read more about Celiac Disease here, here, and here.

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