Gluten Sensitivity and Fertility

Proper nutrition is always a big part of my fertility workups. Even if people say they just want acupuncture because they read that it can help I always discuss diet. I feel that nutrition plays a large role in the chances of getting pregnant. If we eat a food that we are sensitive to thus causing an immune reaction and a cascade of inflammatory molecules it can reduce our chances of procreating. Both in females and males. (Unfortunately it is often the females that get labeled ‘infertile’ even when it is a male problem. If the sperm are within normal limits the guy usually gets a pass. Many practitioners practitioners question this methodology.) A healthy diet will also lead to healthier pregnancy, postpartum and offspring as there are many studies that show diet during pregnancy effects offspring health.

You may have seen the Newsweek article or the Fertility Diet book by Walter Willet.   There are many criticisms from REs saying that there is no proof that diet changes will always increase the chances of pregnancy.  But why would you not want to eat foods that are healthy for you, especially to the benefit of your child?

There is proof that gluten sensitivity (determined by an blood antibody workup) may contribute to infertility.    If I suspect a gluten sensitivity in my fertility patients I always have them get a workup from their PCP.   Better to rule it out.  What are the suspects?  Digestive issues most commonly loose stools, bloating and gas, skin issues, non-cyclical migraines and others.  Another study was just released last month that showed the gluten/infertility connection. Besides the testing I also use Chinese diagnosis to help me get an accurate picture of what may be going on and suggest other dietary modifications.

It is frustrating that I see people immediately turn to very expensive ART (Assisted Reproductive Technologies) rather than take the time to figure out why they are not getting pregnant.   (And the fact that insurance companies in Massachusetts are forced to pay for ART thereby causing us all to bear the cost is another topic).    Couples can have a healthier pregnancy, off-spring and postpartum if they take the time to determine the cause of the so called ‘infertility’ rather than rushing into the goal of having a baby via modern technology. (I am not against ART, just they way it is too often used as the first support to get pregnant.  Chinese medicine has the edge in this department for a large percentage of cases).

If you suspect you may have a gluten sensitivity get it checked out by your PCP with a blood tests: Anti-gliadin IgA, IgG to determine if you recently ingested gluten and had an immune reaction to it;  Tissue Transglutaminase IgA, IgG to determine if there is some autoimmune damage going on in the small intestine villi.    Realize that gluten sensitivity is not like pregnancy where you are or are not.  It does goes from white to black with a huge gray area.   So if you are withing ‘normal limits’ but on the upper end there could be a sensitivity brewing even though the blood is ‘normal’.

Yours In Health,

George Mandler
Licensed Acupuncturist
Licensed Dietitian
Certified Nutrition Specialist

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