Is Celiac Disease More Common in Women with Unexplained Infertility?

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The results of a recent study indicated an increased rate of celiac disease in women who suffer from unexplained infertility. Researchers from Columbia University reviewed information from 191 female patients who presented with infertility. Each participant underwent serological screening for celiac disease, as well as routine fertility testing.

Four women had a positive serum test result, they were advised to have an examination by a gastroenterologist. These women were diagnosed with celiac disease and went through nutritional counseling to help them adopt a gluten-free diet.

The Study

Among the remaining 188 women who went through complete testing, the prevalence of undiagnosed celiac disease was 2.1%. While this rate wasn’t particularly higher than what researchers anticipated, the diagnosis of celiac disease in females with unexplained infertility was found to be much higher at 5.9%, or 3 in every 51 women.

While the study numbers are small, the findings suggest that for some women with unexplained infertility, dietary modification may help increase fertility. Dr. Janet Choi, lead author of the study said, “Diagnosing celiac disease in an infertile woman would be particularly beneficial if the low-cost (and low-risk) therapy of pursuing a gluten-free diet could improve chances for conception.”

What is a Gluten-Free Diet?

A gluten-free diet is one which excludes the protein gluten. Gluten is found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. If someone has a gluten allergy and eats one of these proteins, it can cause an inflammation in the small intestines.

Initially, someone following a gluten-free diet could find it frustrating. However, with time and patience, a person can find many foods to enjoy. Observing a gluten-free diet is the recommended course of treatment for someone with celiac disease or for those who has a sensitivity to gluten.

Avoid Cross-Contamination

Cross contamination happens when a gluten-free food accidentally comes in contact with a food that contains gluten. It can happen during the manufacturing process if the same equipment is used to make a variety of products.

Some foods could be labeled “may contain” statement, but it’s important to know this statement is completely voluntary.

Conclusion to the Study

There are many different reasons as to why a woman could be experiencing unexplained infertility. It is important for more research to be done to explore if there is a definitive link between celiac disease and infertility. Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition which can result in intestinal malabsorption and it may prevent the body from absorbing the nutrients needed to be healthy.

If you are a woman with unexplained infertility, it may be worthwhile to be tested for gluten sensitivity and celiac disease. Speak to your doctor to find out more information about these two conditions and to learn if you may need to make any dietary adjustments to help increase your fertility.


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