Celiac Disease affects both men and women, but research shows approximately two-thirds of those diagnosed with the disease are female. Symptoms of Celiac Disease for both men and women include intestinal problems, including bloating and diarrhea.
Unfortunately, Celiac Disease can also affect reproductive health in women. Research has shown Celiac Disease has a major effect on reproductive health, due in part to the timing of symptoms. Some diagnoses take years and by the time Celiac Disease is official a woman could be well beyond her healthiest reproductive years. If you experience symptoms related to Celiac Disease, it is important to schedule an appointment with your doctor and determine the exact cause. The sooner a diagnosis is established the sooner treatment can begin.
Celiac Disease Symptoms and Womens Health Issues
In addition to reproductive health, Celiac Disease tends to exacerbate many common health concerns for women. For instance, many women suffering from Celiac Disease experience bone loss, which is a common concern in general, especially for those of menopausal age. The combination places women at a greater risk for bone fracture and breakage.
Celiac Disease also directly affects reproductive health. Those diagnosed with the disease who can conceive experience higher risks associated with their pregnancy and birth. Research has shown a higher rate of stillbirth and miscarriage in women with Celiac Disease and there is also a greater prevalence of Caesarean delivery. Finally, women with Celiac Disease might be unable to breastfeed for as long as other mothers, so they must carefully monitor their babys nutritional development and ensure they receive an appropriate substitute for breast milk.
In addition to the health concerns listed above, women with Celiac Disease might also experience chronic fatigue, menstrual irregularities, anemia caused by an iron deficiency, and early onset of menopause.
Treating Celiac Disease in Women
Fortunately, it is possible to manage the symptoms associated with Celiac Disease. For many women, this not only makes life in general easier, it makes fertility and a healthy pregnancy possible.
The most important thing a woman can do once she receives an official diagnosis of Celiac Disease is to follow a strict gluten-free diet. It is also important to supplement properly based on deficiencies triggered by the diet. For instance, gluten-free diets are usually low in calcium, B vitamins, vitamin D, fiber, iron, magnesium, and zinc. A doctor or dietitian can help patients determine which supplements are necessary and how to incorporate them into the diet. Some supplements contain gluten, so you will need to work carefully with your health team to find the right balance and specific products that work for you.
Should you become pregnant, you and your doctor will need to pay special attention to several important factors affecting the development of your baby. These include:
Sufficient weight gain during pregnancy: Weight control is often a concern for Celiac Disease patients and it is especially important when supporting the health of a developing baby.
Sufficient exercise: The combination of managing Celiac Disease and being pregnant can be exhausting, so you need to develop a plan to ensure you are getting a healthy amount of physical activity.
Sufficient rest: Some activity is important, but it is also important for you to get adequate sleep and not over-exert during pregnancy.
Sufficient supplementation of vitamins and minerals: Your usual supplementation program will likely be altered while pregnant.
Healthy overall environment: Protecting your health is even more important when you are pregnant. Speak with your doctor if you are concerned about any events or circumstances that could affect your health or the health of your developing baby.