Can Eating Gluten Lead to Infertility?

by | Jul 1, 2015 | Nutrition, Resource Center

In the United States, roughly 10% of the population is affected by infertility.  Shockingly, 20% of these infertility suffers are given an unexplained diagnosis.  Many simply state they’re unable to get pregnant even having no underlying medical conditions apparent.

At this point in time, the severity of gluten intolerance in relation to infertility cannot be quantified, but recent studies have detected that people with celiac disease have fewer children.  These studies have researchers believing celiac disease may be a cause of infertility in both men and women.

Men with gluten intolerance report reduced sperm count, reduced hormones, and even reduced sex drive.  Needless to say, a reduced sex drive leads to a reduced rate of intercourse.  Nutritional deficiencies resulting from a malabsorption of essential vitamins may also play a role.

Studies find women have a higher prevalence of unexplained fertility than men. In women, adrenal fatigue may be a large contributing factor.  The adrenals regulate the hormones responsible for fertility, blood pressure, blood sugar regulation, hydration, etc.  Like men, malnutrition resulting from malabsorption of nutrients may also be a large contributor.

Considering men and women, gluten intolerance has been associated with the following:

 

  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Reduced male fertility
  • Delayed onset of menstruation
  • Smaller babies
  • Early menopause
  • Spontaneous miscarriages
  • Higher perinatal mortality
  • Reduced duration of breast-feeding

 

Now for the good news, many studies over the last few years have shown that a gluten free diet helps with fertility in both men and women.  One study compared the rate of children born to gluten intolerance suffers to the rate of a control group.  The gluten intolerance sufferers had less children.  Moving forward, appropriate women were properly diagnoses with celiac and placed on a gluten free diet.  The rate began to even out.  It was concluded that gluten intolerance was the cause of infertility and the gluten free diet corrected the problem.

Many researchers now believe you should be screened for celiac disease if you have unexplained fertility.  It is certainly worth discussing with your OB-GYN.