Fertility And Gluten

If up to now, you've been trying to conceive (TTC) but it's been no dice, you may want to think twice before eating that morning bagel. It seems that a significant number of women (and men) have no idea that they are sensitive to gluten, a protein found in grains. Experts believe that a hidden sensitivity to gluten may be the culprit behind a variety of health ailments such as depression, diarrhea, constipation, anemia, and fatigue.

Related Conditions

The grain protein gluten can be found in many grains, among them wheat, oats, rye, spelt, triticale, and kamut. A sensitivity to gluten is many times more common than celiac disease, though the two conditions are somewhat related.

While celiac disease affects only one out of 133 people, it is thought that as many as one out of every two people have a hidden sensitivity to gluten. Celiac symptoms are pronounced and include severe anemia and rapid weight loss. Gluten sensitivity, on the other hand, may not be apparent and can only be diagnosed in its later stages, when a blood test may show a positive result.

Recurrent Miscarriage

Melissa Diane Smith, a nutritionist and health educator tells us how gluten sensitivity can ruin one's health and how to avoid the adverse effects of this protein in her book, "Going Against the Grain." At a conference on polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a leading cause of infertility, Smith spoke about the link between gluten sensitivity and infertility. Smith contends that gluten sensitivity is the leading cause of recurrent miscarriage.

Symptoms of gluten sensitivity include:


*Abdominal pain

*Bloating and Gas


*Diarrhea and constipation


Many chronic conditions are associated with gluten including:


*Autoimmune diseases

*Frequent headaches



*Skin conditions

Early Menopause

For those women who suffer from celiac disease, it's important to note that those who do not monitor their gluten intake tend, on the whole, to enter menopause five years earlier than other women their age. It is estimated that 39% of women with celiac find that their menstrual periods cease from time to time. It doesn't take much of a leap in the imagination to realize how gluten sensitivity can have an adverse effect on female fertility.

Other Benefits

In cases of unexplained infertility, it's reasonable to remove food items containing gluten from the diet to see if this makes a difference. Smith has discovered that a whopping 85% of her clients diagnosed with PCOS test positive for gluten sensitivity. Going off of gluten reduces the symptoms of these women. The nutritionist has discovered other benefits to a gluten-free diet, including better cholesterol levels, thyroid function, and weight loss for the overweight.

Smith notes that many foods are sources of hidden gluten, including:

*Soy sauce


*Foods containing barley malt

*Vegetable protein made from wheat gluten


Don't replace grains with starchy or sugary foods, since this may cause you to develop insulin resistance. Instead, make the focus of your diet fresh vegetables.

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