Gluten and infertility

Infertility rates rise and, coincidentally, so does gluten intolerance?

Gluten intolerance, and more severely, Celiac Disease, has been blamed for a slew of maladies. Digestive troubles being number one but there are more. If you read “Wheat Belly” you’ll learn its effect on the brain, skin, heart and even hair.

But several professionals illustrate the link between infertility and gluten intolerance.

On it is reported that

While celiac disease affects approximately 1 in 133 people, hidden gluten sensitivity may affect as many as 1 person out of every 2. Celiac disease has dramatic symptoms including rapid weight loss and severe anemia. Hidden celiac disease or gluten sensitivity can remain hidden precisely because the symptoms are not apparent.

The article spotlights Melissa Diane Smith, a nutritionist, health educator and author of Going Against the Grain.

Smith spoke at the After the Diet PCOS conference in April 2006 where she talked about the infertility and gluten sensitivity. She stated that gluten sensitivity is a leading cause of recurrent miscarriage.

Smith said that 85% of her PCOS clients test positive for a sensitivity to gluten. When these women remove gluten from their diets they often see a marked improvement in their PCOS symptoms. She has also seen dramatic improvement in cholesterol levels, thyroid function and weight loss in women who have changed their diets to avoid gluten.

Another site, bellaonline says,

Celiac disease and gluten intolerance are both known to be important causes of infertility and miscarriage, both forms of gluten intolerance may easily be remedied by following a gluten free diet.

Dr. Vikki Petersen on Youtube tells of a study involving a 30 year old woman who was chronically infertile, could not find a cause, was diagnosed with celiac. She omitted gluten and within 8 months conceived. Their conclusion was that “gluten intolerance should be checked for in all infertile women as changing their diet can solve their fertility problem.”

But one of the more compelling articles for going gluten-free comes from the site Here they say,

We know that the two most common causes of infertility are pelvic inflammatory disorders (PID) and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Both have been linked to gluten sensitivity. Additionally, gluten intolerance can contribute to low sperm count and low motility in men. Screening for celiac disease, and non-celiac gluten sensitivity (AKA – gluten syndrome) should be the top priority in infertile couples.

Add to this the several people who have contributed to the comments section on various sites who stories alone are inspiration enough to going gluten-free.

Dr William Davis, author of Wheat Belly, writes that “The wheat of the 17th century was the wheat of the 18th century, which in turn was much the same as the wheat of the nineteenth century and the first half of the 20th century…That all ended in the latter part of the 20th century, when an upheaval in hybridization methods transformed the grain. ”

So, is it only coincidence that there is a rise in infertility AND celiac disease?

Nearly five times as many people have celiac disease today than did during the 1950s, according to one recent study. Another report found that the rate of celiac disease has doubled every 15 years since 1974 and is now believed to affect one in every 133 U.S. residents. [source] And, up to 16% of couples are experiencing infertility—a near doubling since the previous time infertility was measured in the nation in 1992.

Urge your endocrinologist to test you for Celiac Disease and gluten sensitivity. It might be the key you’ve been waiting for.


(Image Source: CNN Health)


Charissa Sharkey, CHHC is a Holistic Health Counselor, helping women take control of their fertility through diet and nutrition, while providing a safe place of understanding, resources and support.

After years of anguish, and a diagnosis of “unexplained infertility,” Charissa was finally able to get pregnant (with twins!) with the help of IVF. Charissa feels that by changing her diet she could have prevented the scientific intervention, and all of the chemicals, hormones and frustration.