HomeInfertilityThe Connection between Celiac Disease and Infertility

The Connection between Celiac Disease and Infertility


Medically Reviewed By

Untreated and undiagnosed celiac disease can lead to various health complications. Many obstetrician-gynecologists claim that it may also lead to infertility in both men and women.

The connection between celiac sprue and infertility is still a controversial topic. Women with the disorder report increased incidents of barrenness between the ages of 25 and 39 years. They are also at a higher risk of early menopause.

Celiac disease symptoms can affect a woman’s ability to conceive. Even those who can get pregnant may face higher chances of miscarriages and poor fetus growth. Despite the evidence of a connection between celiac sprue and barrenness, doctors cannot definitively determine the actual cause of the problem.

It can be due to malnutrition, as the body is not able to absorb essential vitamins and minerals. However, doctors can rule out celiac sprue with a physical examination and a blood test.

If you are unable to get or stay pregnant, it is best to consult a doctor and get tested for this disease. In this guide, we are going to discuss the connection between celiac disease and infertility. 

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease, also known as celiac sprue, is an immune reaction of your body to eating gluten. It is a medical condition in which the small intestine is hypersensitive to gluten. Celiac sprue leads to difficulty in digesting food.

People who suffer from celiac sprue may experience malnutrition, growth retardation, diarrhea, anemia and osteoporosis. This condition is both immune-mediated and hereditary, and the diagnosis of the disease requires lifelong avoidance of gluten-containing foods. 

Symptoms of the disease vary from one person to another, depending on their age and gender. People with the disease have a higher risk of developing the disorder if they are genetically predisposed or have an autoimmune disease. 

A biopsy is the best way to diagnose celiac disorder. Although there are no cures for celiac sprue, strict adherence to a gluten-free diet is the only treatment for this condition. 

What is Infertility?

Infertility is a medical condition where you don’t get pregnant despite having unprotected sex for more than a year. In women, the main cause of barrenness is problems with ovulation. In men, it can be due to the quantity or quality of sperm. 

The most common symptom of barrenness is the inability to get pregnant. Thousands of couples seek medical help for barrenness each year. While there are various infertility treatments available for men and women, it is important to understand the root cause. 

The first step is to identify the causes of infertility. It is a disease of the male or female reproductive system. When a couple attempts to conceive for 12 months without success, it is considered infertile. 

A fertility doctor will perform a medical exam to determine the root cause of your barrenness. A physician will also ask you questions and perform various tests to know the actual cause. 

Can Celiac Disease Lead to Infertility?

According to researchers, celiac sprue is one of the factors leading to infertility in both men and women. While it is not common, there have been a few cases in the past when people suffering from this disease had trouble getting pregnant.

The potential side effects of celiac disorder include pregnancy complications and low birth weight. A recent study in Denmark found that women with untreated celiac sprue had a higher risk of miscarriage and poor pregnancy outcomes compared to women with no celiac disease. 

The researchers also found a higher risk of miscarriage and other reproductive problems in women with celiac sprue. However, this research isn’t conclusive. In fact, other health problems may be at work.

While research results regarding the connection between celiac sprue and infertility are conflicting, many studies do agree that women with the condition may not be able to get pregnant if they’re gluten-intolerant. 

While it is unclear whether gluten-free diets actually affect fertility, they can improve overall health and improve your chances of conceiving. However, a gluten-free diet is still the best option for pregnant women with celiac sprue.

The Connection between Celiac Disease and Infertility

The connection between celiac disease and infertility has not yet been proven conclusively. However, several studies have shown an association between celiac sprue and barrenness. 

This condition affects male and female fertility and may contribute to other health issues, including preterm birth and adverse pregnancy outcomes. Furthermore, celiac sprue can lead to nutrient deficiencies, such as zinc and iron.

Although the connection between celiac disorder and infertility is still in its early stages, research has shown that women with the disease have higher rates of barrenness compared to women who do not have celiac sprue. In addition to the increased risk of barrenness, women with celiac sprue have irregular cycles. 

Furthermore, they have a shorter reproductive lifespan, start their periods later and reach menopause earlier than those without celiac disease. This means that a woman with celiac sprue has fewer fertile days, which results in barrenness.

Nearly 4% of women with unexplained barrenness suffer from celiac disorder. In a study, out of 98 women with unexplained barrenness, four were suffering from celiac sprue. 

Although there is still no solid proof for a direct link between celiac sprue and barrenness, women with the disorder should follow a strict gluten-free diet and take  good amounts of multivitamins. This may increase their chances of conceiving naturally.

High Rates of Infertility in Women with Celiac Disease

There are several possible reasons why high rates of infertility are seen in women with celiac disease. First of all, celiac sprue has a delayed diagnosis. Many women are only diagnosed with the disease when a family member or close friend has been diagnosed with disease. 

Second, long-term undiagnosed celiac sprue puts you at risk for developing a range of other medical conditions, including thyroid disease, osteoporosis, connective tissue diseases, and rheumatoid arthritis. Also, undiagnosed celiac sprue has a negative impact on the body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients.

Third, this disease can affect chances of pregnancy. Thankfully, this disorder can be diagnosed and treated with a gluten-free diet. Celiac sprue is an autoimmune disorder caused by a response to the protein gluten found in wheat, rye, and barley. 

It results in inflammation and a lack of nutrient absorption. Because it affects the small intestine, women with celiac sprue have higher miscarriage rates and are less likely to become pregnant than women who don’t have the disease.

A recent meta-analysis of 11 studies found that women with celiac sprue had 3.5 times higher odds of infertility than women without the condition. Furthermore, women with celiac disorder had higher odds of experiencing “unexplained” and “all-cause” barrenness than women without the disease. Interestingly, some women who had celiac disease successfully conceived after a gluten-free diet.

Menstrual Problems in Women with Celiac Disease

A woman with celiac disease might have a variety of symptoms. Some women have difficulty getting pregnant, and some may even experience early menopause. 

Symptoms of this condition may be due to a lack of absorbed nutrients, altered hormone levels, or both. There is no definitive answer on whether this disease is a cause of infertility, but it’s important to visit a doctor to rule out any other medical conditions.

One study of celiac sprue patients revealed that nearly 20% reported that their menstrual cycle was irregular or skipped. By comparison, only 2.2% of women without celiac sprue complained of this condition. 

Other symptoms included irritable bowel syndrome and endometriosis. In fact, many women with celiac sprue also reported amenorrhea. Women with this disease were more likely to suffer from menstrual problems, which may be an indicator of the disease.

Another study examined women with celiac sprue and their chances of pregnancy. In women with this disease, the number of miscarriages is almost twice the rate of women with healthy bodies. 

Getting Tested For Celiac Disease with Unexplained Infertility

If you are unable to get pregnant, it is best to consult a doctor and find the root cause. Many researchers and doctors now recommend couples get screened for celiac disorder with unexplained infertility. 

Celiac disease symptoms include chronic diarrhea, gas, constipation, bloating, nausea, pain in the abdomen, etc. If you have these symptoms, it is best to get tested. However, some women can have silent celiac sprue with no apparent symptoms. 

So, you shouldn’t rely on symptoms alone and get tested if you have trouble getting pregnant. Depending on the condition, a doctor will conduct various tests to screen you for celiac disease. 

Genetic testing, Endoscopy and antibody tests are conducted to rule out celiac sprue. If this disease is the cause of barrenness, you can switch to a gluten-free diet to increase your chances of getting pregnant. Many interfile women with this disease were able to conceive successfully with a proper celiac disease treatment plan and diet changes.  


As per researchers, celiac disease can be the root cause of unexplained infertility. This autoimmune disorder can lead to various health problems like anemia, malnutrition, osteoporosis, fertility issues, etc. If you are unable to get pregnant, it is best to get tested for celiac sprue. Early diagnosis can help you to conceive successfully by adopting a gluten-free diet and proper treatment. 

Somapika Dutta (B.Sc Physiology, Honours)
Somapikar holds Bachelors Degree in Physiology from University of Culcutta. She has 6+ years of experience writing in different niches, including health, tech and lifestyle. An animal enthusiast and a raging foodie, experiencing life - one day at a time.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Exclusive content

Latest article

More article