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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Australian Woman Discovers Celiac Disease After Battling Infertility

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

      An Australian woman seeking an explanation for her infertility, fatigue, anemia and ongoing stomach cramps got an answer to everything when her IVF doctor revealed that she had celiac disease.


    Caption: Image: CC BY-SA 2.0--ZEISS Microscopy

    Celiac.com 11/05/2019 - After failing to conceive naturally over several years, the woman, Helen Tzouganatos, turned to IVF doctor Professor Mark Bowman.

    Tzouganatos says she and her husband had "tried every fertility trick in the book – expensive ovulation kits, herbal remedies, acupuncture, eating more of this and less of that, taking a holiday, taking another holiday – and nothing worked." 

    During her intake, Tzouganatos told Dr. Bowman that she had no "serious" health issues just unexplained anemia since childhood, abdominal cramps and lactose intolerance. To his credit, Dr. Bowman immediately suspected she was a celiac. He ordered a celiac blood screen. When the results came back positive, everything became clear.

    "You’re a celiac and that is why you’re infertile," Dr. Bowman told her. "You need to cut gluten immediately.”

    Tzouganatos began a gluten-free diet immediately, and, after six rounds of IVF treatment, she conceived her son Vasili, followed by a daughter, Sofia, conceived on the second frozen embryo transfer 17 months later.

    Statistical data indicate that one in 70 Australians have celiac disease yet 80 per cent are undiagnosed. Tzouganatos is lucky that her celiac disease was discovered quickly by her IVF doctor, after sneaking under the radar for so long. Any women experiencing unexplained infertility, especially in conjunction with other celiac-related symptoms should be screened to rule out celiac disease. Quick adoption of a gluten-free diet can often lead to full healing and normal, or greatly improved fertility.

    Read more at SMH.com.au


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    I'm well aware of this condition.  My daughter and  her husband tried for 11 years to conceive.  They used no birth control, no fertility treatment of any kind.  I had encouraged her to go gluten-free for a few years but she did not have the support of her husband.  Finally a doctor told her she should try the gluten-free diet.  After about 5 months she got pregnant, but sadly miscarried.  I believe her body had not recovered enough to carry the baby BUT we knew that pregnancy WAS possible.  After another 3 or 4 months she got pregnant again and had a healthy, full term baby boy.  4 months later she was expecting again and has a beautiful baby girl.  Removing gluten from her diet was the ONLY change she made.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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