February 2023

Celiac Disease and Fertility

Many autoimmune diseases seem to have an impact on fertility. It is hard to decipher why this is the case. Autoimmune diseases themselves are difficult to diagnose and treating the symptoms of these diseases is another battle. Celiac disease is a pretty common autoimmune disease, does this autoimmune disease like many others affect fertility?


What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease is a condition in which your immune system battles against your own tissues when you eat gluten. This battle damages your small intestines and limits your ability to take in nutrients. Gluten is typically found in wheat, barley rye, pasta, cereal, bread, and most food items containing wheat. About 1 in every 100 people has celiac disease. Once diagnosed those with celiac disease must avoid gluten to limit the symptoms of this disease.

Some of the symptoms include:

  • Stomach aches, bloating, indigestion, and a variety of other stomach issues.
  • Fatigue from not getting enough nutrients.
  • Weight loss.
  • Infertility.
  • Nerve damage.

When consuming a gluten-free diet, the symptoms should be controlled. Eating gluten-free will also prevent any long-term complications of celiac disease. Continuing to eat gluten with celiac disease is very detrimental to your health. [1]


Celiac Disease and Fertility


What impact does celiac disease have on fertility?

There have been many differing explanations in the research on the association between celiac disease and infertility. It is widely accepted that women with unexplained infertility are three times more likely to have celiac disease. Celiac disease is also connected to delayed menarche, early menopause, and the decrease of the hormone AMH. 

A gluten-free diet is currently the only effective treatment of celiac disease for improving fertility. Women with celiac disease who follow a gluten-free diet have better pregnancy outcomes naturally and with IVF. Celiac disease is usually related to a lack of nutrition, and this can cause fertility issues. [2]


What impact does celiac disease have on pregnancy?

Celiac disease has been known to cause complications in pregnancy as well as fertility. Some Of these complications include recurrent abortions, preterm deliveries, intrauterine fetal growth restrictions, and low-birth-weight infants. These are all very scary complications that no person expecting a child hopes to encounter. These complications often occur because the pregnant person has nutritional deficiencies. The functions of the placenta can also be changed due to celiac disease.

Luckily a gluten-free diet can improve pregnancy complications. Eliminating gluten in the diet allows for improvement in fertility, miscarriage rates, and fetal nutrition. Following a gluten-free diet is incredibly important for anyone with celiac disease and especially if you are pregnant or hoping to be pregnant soon. This diet helps your overall health as well as your fertility and pregnancy outcomes. [3]

If you have celiac disease, you should speak with your doctor when you are planning on being pregnant soon. Your doctor can assess your nutrition and ensure that you are getting the right nutrients to have a healthy and safe pregnancy. Your doctor, as always, will have the best advice on following a gluten-free diet and maintaining a healthy intake of necessary nutrients.


[1] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coeliac-disease/
[2] Krawczyk A, Kretek A, Pluta D, Kowalczyk K, Czech I, Radosz P, Madej P. Gluten-free diet - remedy for infertility or dangerous trend? Ginekol Pol. 2022 Feb 14. doi: 10.5603/GP.a2021.0223. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35156701.
[3] Cakmak E, Karakus S, Demirpence O, Demet Coskun B. Ovarian Reserve Assessment in Celiac Patients of Reproductive Age. Med Sci Monit. 2018 Feb 24;24:1152-1157. doi: 10.12659/msm.909033. PMID: 29476685; PMCID: PMC5834915.