While symptoms typical of the disease include diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and recurrent abdominal pain, celiac disease is increasingly prevalent in women experiencing:
- Chronic fatigue
- Early menopause
- Caesarean delivery
- Unexplained infertility
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Menstrual irregularities
- Absence of menstruation
- Osteoporosis and osteopenia
- Reduced duration of breastfeeding
*For a more general list of symptoms, visit our main Celiac Disease Symptoms page.
But for many women, unexplained infertility is the only sign of undiagnosed celiac disease. Some studies indicate that celiac disease may occur in as many as 4% to 8% of women with unexplained infertility. However, researchers have also found results suggesting that there is no relationship between celiac disease and infertility.
The good news is that a proper diagnosis is easy and treatment has the potential to restore a woman’s health. Doctors have observed some women successfully conceive after a year or more upon receiving a diagnosis and maintaining a strict gluten-free diet.
A 35-year-old woman was diagnosed with celiac disease after more than 16 months of trying to become pregnant. The female patient became pregnant after 10 months of strict adherence to the gluten-free diet and appropriate vitamin/mineral supplementation. She had a healthy pregnancy and gave birth without any problems.
Warren, R., & Greenblatt, E. (2010). Celiac disease and fertility. In M. Dennis & D. Leffler (Ed.), Real life with celiac disease: Troubleshooting and thriving gluten free (331-335). Bethesda, MD: AGA Press.
A group of Italian researchers recruited 61 women with celiac disease to determine if early diagnosis and treatment with the gluten-free diet can affect the characteristics of perimenopause and menopause in celiac women. The researchers compared the group of women with celiac disease to a control population. Among their conclusions, the authors observed that both an early diagnosis and implementation of the gluten-free diet appear to protect a woman’s fertility.
Santonicola et al. (2010). Gluten free diet positively affects reproductive life of celiac women. Digestive and Liver Disease, 42(S), S178.