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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 PDT
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 PDT
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 PDT
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 PDT
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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Welcome! At age 13, she should recover easily from Osteopenia on a gluten free diet. It will take time to heal and master the diet, so patience is needed. The great news is that kids tend to heal much faster! Try reading our Newbie 101 thread pinned at the top of the "Coping" section of...

A recent study found people who don't suffer from gluten sensitivity or celiac disease and adopt a gluten-free diet may be unnecessarily reducing ... View the full article

My 13 year old daughter was recently diagnosed with celiac disease through blood work, endoscopy and biopsy. We recently went for a bone density test and we were informed she also has osteopenia. Any advice would be appreciated.

This is stupid. The nuns at Clyde, Missouri make gluten safe hosts. 17 ppm. Well under the 20 ppm threshold. I consume them safely here in Omaha every week.

When I was diagnosed, I told both kids they will have to be tested. They don't know it will be happening sooner rather than later.