Celiac Disease and Fertility

“When was the last time you went to the doctor?” Ron asked.

I thought he was kidding. As I try to get pregnant, it seems like I’m always at the doctor. If I’m not having my blood tested to check my hormone levels, I’m having a sonogram appointment to track my ovulation, or participating in a procedure known as IUI (intra-uterine insemination) where Ron’s sperm is deposited directly into my uterus by a catheter.

“Not a fertility doctor; a general internist,” he clarified.

Good question. I checked my records. I hadn’t had a regular checkup in over five years. Wow. I scheduled an appointment and made of list of all the issues I wanted to discuss. One of the most pressing matters on my mind? Celiac disease.

With celiac disease, a person has a toxic reaction to gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley), making it difficult for the digestive system to absorb nutrients. Two of the symptoms (you can find a more comprehensive list here) are fatigue and an abdominal area that is sensitive to touch. Both of those rang a bell. Although I knew a tender abdomen and fatigue could also be related to my endometriosis, I wanted to check for sure.

Earlier this year, when I wrote an article about fertility-boosting foods, I recalled interviewing nutritionist Breea Johnson who said that women struggling to conceive should look into food allergens. She said: “Wheat can be inflammatory and inflammation can affect ovulation and hormone production. In America, we eat a lot of wheat, like breads, bagels, and pasta. There is an established connection between celiac disease and infertility.”

So my doctor took a blood sample and sent it off to a lab. The results would be back in a week. While I waited, I became absolutely convinced I had celiac disease. I avoided whole wheat wraps in favor of quinoa salads, and I made sure the oatmeal I cooked in the morning was processed in a wheat-free facility.

When I finally learned the results, I was disappointed. The test indicated celiac disease was “unlikely.” The doctor reminded me not having celiac disease was good thing. Later, I realized part of me felt like if I did have celiac disease, I would have an answer to my infertility. It would be another big piece to the infertility puzzle. Taking a walk that evening, I was grateful (very grateful) for my good health and my body’s ability to properly digest wheat. Trying to find the source of infertility can be a long process. But I did make a step with my celiac test. I knocked out one potential cause. And my doctor was right—that was good news.

About Jenny Rough

Jenny Rough is a lawyer-turned-writer. Visit her on the web at www.jennyrough.com

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