Celiac disease and early menopause
Women with untreated celiac disease may hit menopause earlier, and have a higher risk of some pregnancy complications.
If women with celiac disease are diagnosed early, and follow a strict diet as treatment, the findings suggest they won't go through menopause any earlier than disease-free women.

Celiac disease affects "the whole spectrum of the reproductive career of women," said Dr. Shawky Badawy.

"It's very interesting that when this disease is diagnosed early and corrected by (a) gluten-free diet, you find that these people improved significantly and their reproductive function improved significantly," added Badawy, who was not involved in the new study.

In people with celiac disease the immune system reacts to gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, and rye. Eating foods with gluten damages the small intestine and keeps it from absorbing nutrients.

The authors of the new study, led by Dr. Carolina said that nutrient deficiencies, plus lower levels of some key hormones in women with celiac disease, may be the reason for the earlier menopause they observed.

The new study included a group of about 100 postmenopausal women. Twenty-five of them had been diagnosed with celiac disease and followed a gluten-free diet for at least 10 years before menopause. Another 33 had celiac disease that wasn't diagnosed until after menopause, and 45 celiac-free women served as a comparison group.

Women with untreated celiac disease went through menopause between age 47 and 48, on average - making their "fertile life span" shorter than other women's.

Ciacci's team also noted that women in the untreated celiac group reported more menopause-associated problems, such as hot flashes, irritability, and muscle and joint symptoms than non-celiac women.

They concluded that diagnosing celiac disease early, and preventing some of the nutritional and hormonal differences in celiac women, might delay an otherwise early menopause.

Do you have celiac disease? Have you ever been tested for celiac disease?

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