How does Coeliac Disease prevent my getting pregnant?

Dear Professor Winston,

Could you help me understand if I am a coeliac how it can prevent me getting pregnant?



Dear T.

This is quite a controversial question so I will post my answer on the website. Coeliac disease has been repeatedly blamed for infertility in both women and men. It is sometimes asserted that people with so-called unexplained infertility are more likely to have coeliac disease. In men, there may be an association with a reduced sperm count but I have not seen concrete evidence of this. A study of over 1000 couples in the Netherlands about five years ago did not show an obviously increased risk of male infertility. In women, it is said that irregular periods and failure to ovulate are often common and that this is a cause of infertility.  I think this is controversial for the reasons below.

However, a recent study of over 600 women in Canada, all of whom who were suffering from coeliac disease, showed a low incidents of infertility with surprisingly less than 2% of them reporting that they were infertile (“Unexplained Infertility and Undiagnosed Celiac Disease: Study of a Multiethnic Canadian Population.” Gunn B, Murphy KE and Greenblatt EM).

Moreover, those no difference between those who work in fertile with a known cause (probably unrelated to coeliac disease) and those who had unexplained infertility. In my view providing you are having a reasonable diet and you’re not anaemic, your chances of conception should be the same as other women. Other studies have also show that the success rate of in vitro fertilisation is not decreased in women with coeliac disease.

I hope that this is helpful.

Best wishes

Robert Winston