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Pain in Women During Sex Could be Caused by Untreated Celiac Disease 05/28/2009 - Dr. Maria Porpora and her fellow researchers in Italy studied a woman back in 2003 who had chronic abdominal and pelvic pain, deep dyspareunia (pain while having sex), and dysmenorrhea (menstruation pain similar to cramps). When she came in to Dr. Porpora’s clinic, she also had diarrhea and had lost five kilograms in the last six months.

Her pain was so bad that she completely avoided having sex. She measured the severity of her pain on a one to ten scale, with one being low and ten being high:

  • Dysmenorrhea: 10
  • Chronic pelvic pain: 7
  • Dysapareunia: 10

She also had a “normal cervix, a mobile, anteveted mildly enlarge uterus caused by myomata (benign tumors), and the absence of adnexal masses (lumps in tissue near the uterus, usually in the ovary or fallopian tube).”

The doctors were justifiably confused, and even performed surgery to help relieve the pain, however, after six months her symptoms returned. She was only partially responsive to their “analgesic, antispasmodic, and antidepressant” drugs. She had no obvious gynecologic disorder.

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During subsequent examinations the doctors discovered an issue related to malabsorption, and the patient was tested for gluten antibodies. The results were positive, and the woman was put on a gluten-free diet. After one year on a gluten free diet the woman’s pain disappeared, along with her other symptoms of fatigue, depression, and general intestinal issues.

According to this article, 40% of cases of pelvic pain in women have no known cause, even if they have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel diseases. According to the doctors: “Celiac disease should be taken into consideration when a patient presents with unexplained pelvic pain, dysmenorrhea, or deep dyspareunia if these symptoms are associated with bowel disorders, even in the absence of a known intestinal disease.”

Reference: Obstetrics and gynecology 2002;99(5 Pt 2):937-9. welcomes your comments below (registration is NOT required).

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4 Responses:

Joani Mullen
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said this on
03 Jun 2009 12:00:49 PM PST
I have had pain with sex and other abdominal pain. I was just diagnosed with celiac disease today but I never even mentioned the pain with sex as I figured that came with menopause.

Launa North
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said this on
13 Jul 2009 5:48:40 PM PST
I hope you have relief going gluten free Joani!

I wonder if interstitial cystitis, which can also cause this kind of pain and is an autoimmune disease, is also linked to gluten issues.

Liz Astill
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said this on
01 Mar 2011 11:25:33 PM PST
A very, very interesting article. As I am undergoing tests for coeliac and have a few problems with pain after sex it feels like my pelvis is inflamed. I will have to wait for the diagnosis but thank you.

Charles Runels
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said this on
04 Dec 2013 7:09:43 PM PST
There's a new treatment for dyspareunia to cause stem cells to generate new healthy tissue. The procedure is called o-shot which has been very effective with my patient. Hope this helps.

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This disease is like a chameleon and seems to change symptoms on people and everyone is a bit different, heck some have no symptoms til it almost kills them with secondary issues like cancer, lymphoma, rupturing the intestines etc. I did not have ht classic D but constipation, I also had a bunc...

I just quoted a little part but really much of your experiences could be mine. I won't bore you with it all, but chest pains came from 19, herniated disk came at 21, followed by 20 years of sciatic back pain. Depression at or about the same time. Brain fog little later. There was lots more, prima...

Morning guys. So long story short. Lost 10 kg back late last year. Stress related I believe. ( I Understand this is a big factor with celiacs) Tested. Found anti bodies in my blood. Doctor states potential Celiacs. Have endoscopy. Doctor who takes procedure doubts I have it. ...

Getting a celiac disease diagnosis is shocking. Expect to go through all the stages of grief. Your best defense is to learn how to read labels, avoid cross contamination and consider eating as few processed foods for a few weeks. It may speed healing (wish someone would have advised me to do s...

That is very helpful. Thank you so much.