Untreated women may face menopause at a younger age, but early diagnosis & treatment can delay onset.
Women with celiac disease who go undiagnosed and untreated may face an earlier menopause, a new study reports. However, women who are diagnosed and treated early appear to have a longer “fertile life span.”
The study compared 33 women with celiac disease after menopause (untreated), 25 women with celiac disease who maintained a gluten-free diet at least 10 years before menopause (treated), and 45 healthy women (control group).
Researchers found that women with untreated celiac disease had a shorter duration of fertility when compared to the control group; menstruation began later and menopause occurred earlier in untreated celiac women, the study noted.
In contrast, celiac women who were treated for at least 10 years showed no difference in the “duration of fertile life span,” according to the results.
The findings confirm previous research on menarche and menopause in women with untreated celiac disease.
Researchers suggested that nutrient deficiencies and hormonal imbalances could play a role in the early onset of menopause in untreated women, according to Reuters Health. They concluded that early diagnosis and treatment through a strict gluten-free diet could help avoid this fertility issue.
"When a woman has early menopause, she should think of celiac disease. It's probably too late to gain anything about fertility but it's probably important for her quality of life," lead researcher Dr. Carolina Ciacci told Reuters Health. "This is the same for people experiencing multiple (spontaneous) abortions or preterm birth -- it's just a blood test."
Celiac disease is associated with other fertility problems, including miscarriage and stillbirth. For more information, visit Celiac Disease & Women’s Health.