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Hypothyroidism, Celiac Disease And Infertility. Do I Really Need To Be Tested?
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My wife and I have been trying to conceive for the past 6 months. We’ve had a couple exciting moments when we thought we were pregnant, but alas, still no joy.

 

I recently discovered that infertility in males is a symptom of Hashimoto’s Disease (which I am diagnosed with), and the easiest way to overcome it is a gluten-free diet. It makes me sad because I love bread so much. :,(  But I digress...

 

In the past few years I’ve been experiencing intense abdominal pains and somewhat frequent constipation after certain meals. I actually thought I was allergic to olive oil, but since there isn’t a cheap and easy test for that I will never know for sure, but what I am sure of, is that all of the meals that have caused the pain have been wheat based; pasta, bread, cereal (cereal is the worst), etc. I’m very sensitive to dairy, too so it’s always so hard to say what causes the pain, but the lowest common denominator has always been wheat.

 

The pain varies from feeling a little bloated to so severe I can’t sleep. It is sometimes accompanied by diarrhea but not always. A few nights ago my wife made a homemade focaccia bread to go with dinner. Immediately after dinner I began to feel icky. I also had wheat at breakfast and lunch, but not quite as much at those times.

 

So I started casually browsing the web about Hashimoto’s disease (hypothyroidism) to see if I had missed anything about my condition in the past. As it turns out, I've been missing a LOT.  While scrolling through a wiki entry a word popped out at me: infertility. I had probably seen it before but never dedicated it to memory because it wasn’t something I cared about until recently. Then came the nested searches, one thing leading me to another thing and then to yet another thing until I came upon the strikingly common connection between Hashimoto’s disease and Celiac disease and the issues surrounding gluten for both diseases.  Apparently, gluten can be a trigger for Hashimoto's and Hashimoto's can be a trigger for Celiac disease and both can cause issues with infertility.

 

I feel like a huge hypochondriac just writing this, but “what if”? What if, between my thyroid condition and an intolerance for gluten, I have inadvertently reduced my ability to produce healthy sperm and am simultaneously destroying myself from the inside out all because I love bread maybe just a little too much?

 

It seems pretty clear that a gluten-free diet is the way to go regardless of whether or not I actually have Celiac disease.  I know I need to keep eating gluten for the tests to work, but what I want to know is, do I really need the tests at all?  If I have other reasons to go gluten-free outside of Celiac do I even need to bother?

 

I don't know... I'm feeling kind of betrayed by my doctors over the years for not clueing me in on some of this stuff.  Cross-checking thyroid patients for Celiac disease is not a common practice, despite how often they go together, and I've never had a doctor suggest a special diet for me despite the overwhelming information available online and from books about thyroid diets.

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A big welcome to the board. 

 

While I am not specifically familiar with male fertility issues associated with celiac, they are most assuredly associated with pregnancy and childbearing in women, so without looking it up I would have to assume if you have done your reading that it could certainly also be a male issue.  I have often said that fertility clinics should first be required to run a celiac panel :rolleyes:   What is hypochondriacal about concerns with fertility??  Very real issue, and one that doctors are not particularly clued into, alas.

 

As for the benefits of being tested, some find that it is a good motivator to stick with the diet if they have been officially stamped "celiac"; they need never second guess themselves.  It is also good to be aware that any future children you have will have the likelihood of developing the condition so they should be monitored and tested periodically.

 

Autoimmune disease begets autoimmune disease, so if you have one you may well develop others.  The blood test is such a simple step, so do it now while your antibodies are busy running around.  Don't wait until they've gone away and then wish you had had the testing. :)

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A big welcome to the board. 

 

While I am not specifically familiar with male fertility issues associated with celiac, they are most assuredly associated with pregnancy and childbearing in women, so without looking it up I would have to assume if you have done your reading that it could certainly also be a male issue.  I have often said that fertility clinics should first be required to run a celiac panel :rolleyes:   What is hypochondriacal about concerns with fertility??  Very real issue, and one that doctors are not particularly clued into, alas.

 

As for the benefits of being tested, some find that it is a good motivator to stick with the diet if they have been officially stamped "celiac"; they need never second guess themselves.  It is also good to be aware that any future children you have will have the likelihood of developing the condition so they should be monitored and tested periodically.

 

Autoimmune disease begets autoimmune disease, so if you have one you may well develop others.  The blood test is such a simple step, so do it now while your antibodies are busy running around.  Don't wait until they've gone away and then wish you had had the testing. :)

Wow.  That makes me feel a lot better about it.  Thank you for the kind and quick response! I didn't even consider that my children might have the same condition.  I guess I should just do it.  I'm very used to having my blood drawn so it should be no big deal.

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You can make really great tasting muffins with almond, or coconut flour.  Some people enjoy them more than their old bread.  The food is good, if you don't like it right away, you can develop a taste for it.  Once you are gluten free and your symptoms start to go away that can help keep you on track.

 

 

Get well soon  ***

Diana

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Hi Schtink,

 

Welcome to the forum! :)

 

Celiac is hereditary so your children should be tested, although it would be hard to get accurate tests when they are very young.  But, having the genes for celiac disease does not by itself mean you have celiac disease.  Many people have the genes but not celiac.  The reaction by the immune system has to be triggered somehow.  There are about 30% of the population that have the genes but only 1% that have the condition.

 

Celiac can cause malabsorption of nutrients (vitamins/minerals etc).  Malabsorption by itself can lead to many problems in the body.  They just don't work right without the vitamins they need to function.

 

I agree that doctors should check Hashimoto's patients for celiac disease.  It is a simple blood raw for the antibody tests panel.

 

They say there are 300 symptoms of celiac disease.  Because it can affect all parts of the body.  I think someone actually put together a list.

 

Please do get the tests done first before going gluten-free.  After going gluten-free the tests become very unreliable.  And going back on gluten for 3 months or so to get tested later can be very unpleasant.  Often it seems that people have worse reactions to gluten after they have been off it for a while.

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Welcome to the board.  :)

 

When (if) you request celiac testing, these are the most common ones you might want to request (before going gluten-free):

  • ttg IgA and ttg IgG
  • EMA IgA
  • DGP IgA and DGP IgG
  • total serum IgA
  • AGA IgA and AGA IgG (older tests)

Celiac can cause nutrient deficiencies like low B12, D, ferritin, iron, calcium and potassium. That can affect overall health too.

 

When requesting thyroid testing if suggest asking for:

  • TSH (ideally close to a 1)
  • Free T4 and free T3 (ideally around the 50-75% range of your lab's normal reference range)
  • TPO Ab (should be very low)

 

Celiac can cause Hashi's and vice versa, but once the trigger is pulled (as you put it) you can't put the bullet back into the gun. Treating both disorders can help the other (especially eating gluten-free) but it very very cures the other disease and makes treatment un-needed.

 

You might want to check your adrenals out too. They affect the sex hormones and can be affected by on going autoimmune activity.

 

Good luck! I hope you find answers.  :)

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