Infertility is a sensitive and delicate subject and affects about 10% of the population (6.1 million Americans). I don't take it lightly and I have compassion for the pain that it brings to so many women. My goal here is to not give false hope, but at the same time provide you with information that shows there are direct links with infertility and gluten. I want to be very clear that not all infertility issues are directly related to gluten, but for those who bare the struggle of not being able to conceive, this may be an option to try or at the very least investigate.
There are multiple medical studies that date all the way back to the 1980s that show the link between infertility and celiac disease. This article, Coeliac Disease, Fertility, and Pregnancy, from 1982 is a prime example. It shows the difference between celiac disease patients that follow a normal diet (not gluten-free) are relatively infertile, while celiac disease patients that follow a gluten-free diet show no difficulty getting pregnant.
There is another study from 1988, Adult Coeliac Disease Presenting with Infertility, this is a case study on a 21-year old that had been attempting to conceive and was unsuccessful. She had presented with no other symptoms then unexplained anemia (low iron), that was recurrent. Due to the anemia, they did further testing and eventually diagnosed her with celiac disease. After attempting to conceive for a total of three years with only two months of a gluten-free diet she conceived and had a perfectly healthy baby.
Another medical study, Increased Prevalence of Celiac Disease in Patients with Unexplained Infertility in the United State: A Prospective Study, revealed that celiac disease plays a role with infertility. Out of the 188 patients that completed the study, there were 51 patients that had unexplained infertility. The other 137 patients had other factors (i.e. endometriosis, ovarian dysfunction, etc.) that could be the culprit. Almost 6% of the patients who exhibited unexplained infertility were diagnosed with celiac disease. All four of those patients went on a gluten-free diet and all four conceived within a year. Additionally, there were 8 patients that were positive with the serologic testing (blood testing), but never underwent the endoscopy and were advised to follow-up with a gastroenterologist.
There are plenty more studies that support the link between unexplained infertility and celiac disease. I want to be very clear that this is not the case for everyone that is infertile, but when you have gone to specialists and they don't have any reason as to why you can't conceive, gluten could be the culprit. There are so many women that suffer from infertility and long for the day that they can conceive. If you have unexplained infertility, a viable option is a gluten-free lifestyle. Infertility can be the result of nutritional deficiencies, those include:
The Chicago Medical Center: Celiac Disease Center states, "610,000 women in the US experience unexplained infertility; 6% (36,600) of these women might never learn that celiac disease is the cause." Also they state, "in the landmark prevalence study on celiac disease, investigators determined that 60% of children and 41% of adults diagnosed during the study were asymptomatic (without any symptoms)." This tells us you don't have to have symptoms to have celiac disease or gluten intolerance. I decided to write on this topic to bring awareness and that maybe there are women who are trying to conceive that will read this and benefit from it. If you are battling with any symptoms, including infertility, I strongly encourage you to keep searching, be your own advocate, don't take no for an answer, and don't give up.
There is a diagram created by Dr. Peter Osborne to illustrate the numerous nutritional deficiencies that can contribute to infertility. It helps you identify how many factors play into the role of conception and helps you understand how many other factors in your life celiac disease may be affecting in your life. You can click HERE to view the diagram.
Hello, my name is Rachel. I am a wife, mother of four beautiful children, and a registered nurse. I have a passion for educating people on nutrition. I strive to "Put life back into your lifestyle," by connecting you to the most up-to-date and accurate information regarding gluten-free living and other topics on nutrition. Check out my blog, website, and feel free to drop me a line!