There are a handful of women’s issues that doctors will tell you can be related to celiac disease: celiac can be triggered by pregnancy, delivery, menopause, and undiagnosed celiac can cause infertility and osteoporosis.
What you don’t see often is any research on the relationship of celiac disease to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS. I recently did some research that looks at why some people think the two may be related.
The Mayo Clinic’s website describes PCOS as
“…the most common hormonal disorder among women of reproductive age. The name of the condition comes from the appearance of the ovaries in most, but not all, women with the disorder — enlarged and containing numerous small cysts located along the outer edge of each ovary (polycystic appearance).” — MayoClinic.com
According to the Mayo Clinic’s website women with PCOS often deal with infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods, excess hair growth, acne and obesity. They often have trouble getting pregnant as well.
So what does PCOS have to do with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity?
Well some would say they may be more related than people think. Surefoodsliving.com recently conducted an “Ask the Doctor” segment with Dr. Aron who, during the process of answering a bigger question, said “…PCOS and celiac are related”. While that doctor didn’t really elaborate, another expert did.
BellaOnline.com’s infertility editor discussed PCOS and infertility. The article sourced Melissa Diane Smith who’s a nutritionist, health educator and author of Going Against the Grain. She says
“…85% of her PCOS clients test positive for a sensitivity to gluten. When these women remove gluten from their diets they often see a marked improvement in their PCOS symptoms.”
One blogger knows about this issue all too well. This mother of two has both PCOS and celiac disesase. She writes about this very subject in detail on her blog Hormones and High Chairs. She says,
“i previously wrote about a possible link between celiac disease and pcos, and for me, that possibility is stronger than ever…i didn’t have periods that were less than 3 months apart. dx and gluten free diet began mid march. my first “real” period on may 10 (see previous blog). and i was waiting to see if i had to wait 3 months or if i could possibly become regular again.
drum roll please… 5 weeks… that’s only 35 days… i have another period.” – Hormones And High Chairs Blog
Then she also explains the importance of staying gluten free if you have PCOS,
“…eating gluten free is extremely important. It’s difficult and frustrating, but when i think of how good i feel, how i don’t have emotional outbursts anymore, i have zero bloating and am losing weight steadily, and no more physical pain, i don’t want to eat foods with gluten.”
So you’ve gotten this far in my post. Still you won’t find any major study or conclusion linking the two ailments. What I will offer you is a thought: celiac disease can be tied to liver and kidney problems, cancer, infertility, bad teeth, depression, osteoporosis and other bone issues, nervous system disorders, rashes, and more. So if all of these seemingly random problems can happen with untreated celiac disease, is it so impossible to think that celiac and gluten sensitivities wouldn’t play a role in PCOS?
If you have PCOS and are wondering about whether celiac is playing a role, why not get the blood test? I know in many cases it may be tough to convince your doctor to run the test if he or she isn’t familiar with the bizarre connections celiac can have with other ailments. But I think for many, it could be worth the time and money.
Note: I am not a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor on your health care to find out what is right for you.