Welcome to the Holistic Wellness Center of the Carolinas – Research Based Functional Wellness

704.308.2557

Infertility, gluten intolerance, and Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism

CLICK HERE FOR A FREE CALL

Couples trying to conceive may want to add a gluten-free diet to their regimen. Research shows a clear link between celiac disease (gluten intolerance) and infertility in both women and men.

Infertility affects about 10 percent of couples wanting to have children, or more than 6 million Americans. Several studies have shown the prevalence of celiac disease is higher in women with unexplained infertility. Also, women with celiac disease are three times more likely to miscarry and four times more likely to experience complications in pregnancy.

Gluten’s effect on the reproductive system extends beyond fertility. In a 2011 Russian study, women with celiac disease generally began menstruating a year or more later than their peers, and suffered significantly more menstrual irregularities and amenorrhea (lack of menstruation).

Knowing whether gluten intolerance is a pregnancy risk can be difficult as symptoms aren’t always obvious. Studies have shown women with undiagnosed celiac disease often do not have digestive complaints, the symptom most associated with celiac. This is consistent with findings in the general population: the majority of those with celiac disease do not, in fact, suffer from digestive problems.

Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism and infertility

This is a double whammy for those with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, as studies also link gluten intolerance and celiac disease with the autoimmune thyroid disease.

Some research also shows a link between Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism and infertility. For instance, elevated TPO antibodies, a marker for Hashimoto’s, are associated with  poor treatment response in infertile women who also suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Women with hypothyroidism have been shown to have a poor response rate to in vitro fertilization,  and Hashimoto’s is associated with more pregnancy complications in one study.

An important strategy to tame the autoimmune response that attacks the thyroid gland and causes hypothyroid symptoms is to adopt a gluten-free diet. This may also reduce the risk of infertility, as well.

Gluten, hypothyroidism also affect male fertility

Women aren’t the only ones whose reproduction is affected by gluten intolerance. Male fertility is also at risk. Newer research shows that 20 percent of married men with undiagnosed celiac disease have infertile marriages. Semen analysis has shown problems with both the structure of sperm and its motility. Another study showed men with undiagnosed celiac disease tend to have hormonal imbalances that may lead to infertility. There is good news, however. Sperm function and hormone balance were both shown to improve on a gluten-free diet.

Also, men with hypothyroidism are shown to have sperm abnormalities and erectile dysfunction.

Studies look at narrow segment of gluten-intolerant population

These studies, while illuminating, look at celiac disease only, which accounts for a small minority of people with a gluten intolerance. Celiac disease is an autoimmune reaction to gluten. “Gluten intolerance” is a broader category that includes people whose health is compromised by gluten, although their reaction may not be autoimmune. If studies were expanded to include the full range of those who have an immune reaction to gluten, the rates of infertility and birth complications due to gluten intolerance could be found to be quite a bit higher.

Meet the Author

Dr. Boyle D.A.C.M., LAc., DiplOM.

Dr. Boyle D.A.C.M., LAc., DiplOM. is the founder of the Holistic Wellness Center of the Carolinas where he is the Director of Functional Medicine. He holds a Diplomate in Oriental Medicine and is acupuncture physician and primary care physician in the state of Florida. His post-graduate focus has been in the fields of functional neurology, functional immunology, and functional endocrinology.

Latest from the Blog

Make the New Year more active through more fun

Most of us are starting the New Year with resolutions to improve, but few changes will improve your life more than regular exercise. However, starting an exercise habit can seem insurmountable to the chronically sedentary. This article offers tips to get you motivated to begin and stick with regular exercise. First off, there’s more to […] Read more

Latest from the Blog

Got a chronic health issue? Eat real food!

When you’re starting on a new health journey, knowing what to eat can seem confusing. For starters, there is a ton of conflicting advice out there, with proponents of each diet insisting their diet is the healthiest. The truth is, the best diet depends on which one works best for you. Factors that determine this […] Read more

WATCH OUR ON DEMAND WEBINAR NOW

Prospective clinic members can watch a life-changing educational talk to learn more about our holistic approach to healthcare.

WATCH NOW »

Holistic Wellness Center of the Carolinas
Holistic Wellness Center - charlotte hormone imbalance treatment