Celiac Disease And Infertility

August 6, 2009

Infertility affects as many as one in six couples in their reproductive years in America alone. Many cases of infertility can be traced to a specific cause. However, nearly 15 percent of cases of infertility remain unexplained-there is no apparent cause. For a couple trying to conceive, this type of infertility can be a devastating experience.

The Undiagnosed Culprit

It has recently become known that a hereditary condition that often goes undetected and undiagnosed, can lead to infertility. Celiac disease has been linked to repeated miscarriages, early menopause, and infertility in women of childbearing age. The symptoms of celiac disease are not always obvious and it may be years before the symptoms reach a point where diagnosis is made. By then, it may be too late in life for the woman to have babies. The condition not only affects women. Men who have undiagnosed celiac disease may also be infertile because of it.

What Is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is an inherited condition. It occurs when gluten-a protein found in wheat, rye and barley-causes damage to the small intestine. Vital nutrients are not absorbed in the gut, as they would be in a healthy intestinal tract. Celiac disease affects people differently and not all of the symptoms are obvious. The classic symptoms of celiac include diarrhea, stomach pain, weight loss, and, in the case of children, delayed growth. For some people, the symptoms are more subtle, such as bloating and excessive gas. Some symptoms not generally associated with the intestinal tract are also considered symptomatic of celiac disease. Fatigue, weakness, joint pain and migraines, are often diagnosed as anemia, chronic fatigue syndrome, stress, or irritable bowel syndrome, when in fact it is celiac disease.

Without treatment, celiac disease increases the risk of several disorders, such as malnutrition, osteoporosis (due to the inability to absorb Vitamin D and calcium), certain digestive tract cancers, thyroid disease, Type 1 diabetes, and other disorders. Celiac disease is also, in some cases, the cause of unexplained infertility, in both men and women.

There Is Only One Treatment Option

The only treatment available for celiac disease is a gluten-free diet for life. Gluten appears in grains, but it is not limited to them. Gluten can be found in vitamins, medicines, lip balms, and other everyday products. Most women believe, mistakenly, that a gluten-free diet with deprive their babies of important nutrients. In fact, the best diet for a pregnant woman with celiac and her unborn baby is a gluten-free diet. It is the only option for the health of both mother and child. There is no lack of nutrients in a gluten-free diet, especially since all of the nutrition from the foods the mother eats are absorbed properly into her system.

The Diet That Really Works!

A case control study of women with celiac disease who had been pregnant prior to eating gluten-free and then became pregnant after eating a gluten-free diet had encouraging results. Eating a gluten-free diet as treatment for celiac disease caused a relative 35.6 percent drop in pregnancy loss, 29.4 percent drop in low birth weight babies and an increase of two and a half months of breastfeeding.

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