Most people don’t know they have Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance. Most practitioners overlook this disorder that causes damage to the small intestine when gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, is eaten.
On top of infertility, other gynecological and obstetrical problems may also be more common, including miscarriages and preterm births. For men, problems can include abnormal sperm — such as lower sperm numbers, altered shape, and reduced function. Men with untreated celiac disease may also have lower testosterone levels.
The good news is that with proper treatment with a gluten-free diet and correction of nutritional deficiencies, the prognosis for future pregnancies is much improved.
Trouble digesting gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley is actually pretty common. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates that as many as one in every 133 Americans have Celiac Disease. Probably many more people have gluten intolerance.
What is Celiac Disease?
If you have celiac disease, eating gluten triggers an autoimmune response, provoking your body to attack itself and destroy healthy tissues, especially the villi in your small intestine. This can also have a detrimental effect on your body’s ability to absorb and process nutrients.
Some of the most common symptoms of this disease process include:
- Chronic diarrhea
- Acid reflux
Even a small amount of gluten can trigger a response.
How Celiac Disease Can Affect Your Fertility
In the New York Times article above, Dr. Sheila Crowe, a professor in the division of gastroenterology and hepatology at the University of Virginia, provides information about a slightly lesser known side effect of celiac disease, namely infertility, which can affect both men and women with the disease.
Studies from various countries indicate that fertility problems are indeed more common in women with untreated celiac disease, compared to women who do not have it.
In addition, other common menstrual disorders that frequently affect women with celiac disease include:
- Later onset of menstruation
- Earlier menopause
- Secondary amenorrhea (a condition in which menses starts but then stops)
These menstrual abnormalities, along with other hormonal disruptions they cause, can lead to fewer ovulations, which in turn results in a reduced chance of pregnancy.
Men with the disease, especially if it’s undiagnosed, can also face fertility problems due to:
- Abnormal sperm (reduced sperm count, altered shape, and reduced function)
- Reduced testosterone levels
How to Diagnose Celiac Disease
There are reliable blood tests that can screen for the disease. Your doctor will need to test your blood for high levels of anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies (tTGA) or anti-endomysium antibodies (EMA).
Please keep in mind that you need to continue eating a diet containing gluten, such as breads and pastas, in order to obtain an accurate test result! If you go on a gluten-free diet prior to being tested, the results may come up negative for celiac even though you might in fact have the disease.
The Case for a Low- or No-Grain Diet – Whether You Have Celiac Disease or Not
Most people simply consume far too much bread, cereal, pasta, corn (a grain, not a vegetable), rice, potatoes, snacks and junk foods, with grave consequences to their health.
A diet high in grains causes insulin resistance which causes far more problems than this dangerous autoimmune response.
How to Treat Celiac Disease
In my experience, gluten intolerance can be treated by eliminating gluten and most grains from your daily diet.
It’s important to realize that gluten can be hidden in many foods including soups, soy sauce, candies, cold cuts, and various low- and no-fat products, so check the labels before you eat it.
Also watch out for malt, starches, hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP), texturized vegetable protein (TVP) and natural flavoring.
Some pharmaceuticals, vinegars and alcohol can also contain gluten.
If you have celiac disease, it’s imperative that you do not eat gluten in order to avoid further damage to your health.
Remember, if you stick to a diet consisting mainly of whole foods, preferably locally-grown organics, you’ll reap all the other beneficial side effects as well, such as increased energy, an enhanced mood, and a lower risk of other chronic illnesses.
Try a gluten-free diet for 6 weeks, you’ll probably feel much better.
These 4 supplements plus the gluten free anti-inflammatory diet are my current protocol
UltraInflamX® Plus 360 — 2 scoops twice daily in a shake.
LactoFlamX™ — 1 capsule daily
EPA-DHA 6:1™ Enteric Coated — 2 softgels three times daily.
3™ — 1 tablet three times daily.