Untreated celiac disease may cause infertility.
LetsGetChecked is joined by Christina Kantzavelos, who lives with celiac disease and shares her experience of taking a Female Hormone Test.
Does Celiac Disease Affect Fertility?
Celiac disease results in malabsorption of nutrients. Malabsorption of calcium and vitamin D specifically can contribute to reproductive issues. Celiac disease has been associated with several unfavourableunfavorable outcomes of pregnancy, including miscarriage and low birthweight babies. Numerous reports over the last three decades have connected undiagnosed celiac disease as the root cause of reproductive issues.
A nationwide register study in Denmark found that women diagnosed with celiac disease had the same chance of experiencing pregnancy and the same risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes as women without a diagnosis of celiac disease. However, in the years before their diagnosis (ie, when they were living with untreated celiac disease) these women had a higher risk of miscarriage and stillbirth than women who did not have a diagnosis of celiac disease. The study also reported that once women received a diagnosis of celiac disease (and started a gluten-free diet) the increased risk seemed to disappear.
The study used the Danish National Patient Register which contains information on all hospital contacts in Denmark (in-patient and out-patient) and linked this data to the Danish Civil Registration System (containing demographic, emigration and vital status information on all people living in Denmark), the Danish Medical Birth Register (containing information on all births in Denmark) and the Danish ART register (with information on all women treated with ART in Denmark).
It was found that:
● Before diagnosis (i.e., while women are unaware, they have celiac disease and are therefore untreated), women were less likely to have a baby than women without celiac disease.
● In the 2 years before their celiac disease diagnosis, women were significantly more likely to experience adverse pregnancy outcomes than women without the disease. These women were significantly more likely to experience a miscarriage or still birth.
● Once women received a diagnosis of celiac disease (and presumably began a gluten-free diet) their pregnancy experience mirrored that of women without celiac disease - they were no more likely to experience miscarriage or still birth than women without celiac disease.
The results of this study strongly support the early diagnosis of celiac disease. Another Danish study screening >2000 people and found that the prevalence of celiac disease was 10 times higher than had been recorded - 1 person in the group knew they had celiac disease and 10 people received a diagnosis after screening.
Our Case Study: Celiac Disease & The Female Hormone Test
This week, LetsGetChecked is joined by Christina Kantzavelos to discuss her experience of taking the Female Hormone Test, having learned that celiac disease and infertility are linked.
Christina Kantzavelos is the founder of Buen Qamino and a user of LetsGetChecked.
LetsGetChecked can reveal that 62% of female consumers are simply curious about their fertility status when they choose to take a female fertility test. Christina is part of this sample group and states:
“I was simply curious. Female hormones play a big part in our overall health, and mine had never been tested before.”
Before your diagnosis of celiac disease, how did you find your hormonal health? Was it something were aware of? Did you experience any irregularities?
Like many women my age in the US, I've been on birth control for the majority of my adult life. Prior to being on birth control, I used to have ovarian cysts and frequent and heavy menstruations, which I believe birth control (progestin) has helped with. It's difficult to know what my hormones look like at baseline, at this point in my life, without birth control.
After your diagnosis of celiac disease, did you make any changes to your hormonal health?
I simply changed my diet, which has evolved into being very clean, nearly-paleo, and low-histamine. Based on my current health, I believe this has positively impacted my overall health, including hormonal health.
Did following a gluten-free diet improve your hormonal health? (Prevent negative symptoms associated with your period.)
It is difficult to know because I began my gluten-free diet after my IUD Mirena insertion, but I am sure it only benefited.
Do you think there is a connection between hormonal health and celiac disease?
I definitely think so. There is research surrounding celiac disease and its impact on the endocrine system and adrenals, which are in charge of producing hormones.
When your body is stressed, because you are damaging it with gluten, you will produce stress hormones, as opposed to the helpful hormones you need.
What steps do you take to improve symptoms associated with the menstrual cycle?
A clean diet is important. Everyone is different, but if you have celiac disease or a wheat allergy, then you should make every effort to avoid gluten, even if you do not suffer from any physical symptoms. You may also want to find out if you are having any other poor reactions to food (i.e. lactose, casein, soy, corn, high-histamines, etc.), which could also be impacting your health. It's important to not damage your body any more than you already have.
What are your favorite gluten-free recipes? Do you have one you would like to share?
I use Sun Basket, which delivers a box of organic ingredients and recipes for gluten-free/paleo meals to me weekly. These meals are delicious and have made my life a lot easier. Otherwise, I enjoy finding recipes via Instagram, Pinterest, and Google that cater to my gluten, dairy, soy-free, and low-histamine diet.
What are your personal tips and tricks for staying healthy?
"Listen to your body!"
My body will tell me whether or not it feels right after eating something or completing a certain activity. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, but I know my body likes when I eat clean, meditate regularly, sleep for at least 8-10 hours a night, as well as when I walk after meals and spend time in nature.
What do you think are the building blocks for nutritional health when following a gluten-free diet?
It took me a while to realize this, but just because something is packaged 'gluten-free' DOES NOT mean it's necessarily healthy. Sure, it's 'healthier' than eating something gluten-filled, but a lot of the gluten-free products out there are processed and are high in chemicals, and in sugars.
Many of us with celiac disease have already done damage to our bodies, and we should try to reverse it, rather than potentially cause further damage.
What do you think of the LetsGetChecked service? How did you find taking the test?
I thought it was a bloody (pun) easy test, and turned me into a believer and doer of the at-home health tests. If you don't mind seeing blood, then this puts dealing with making an appointment to see a doctor, going to the lab, and or dealing with insurance to shame. The process and turnaround were quick, and I loved that a medical professional called me with the results.
Do you have celiac disease? Have you ever wondered how celiac disease may affect your fertility? Today it's possible to test your hormones from home.
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Written by Hannah Kingston | Approved by Medical Director, Dr. Dominic Rowley