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Pain in Women During Sex Could be Caused by Untreated Celiac Disease

Celiac.com 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.


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4 Responses:

 
Joani Mullen
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfull Unrated
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
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfull Unrated
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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Love reading this story as it is rare (I think) to find someone else with the swallowing issues! Hate that this is your experience however! My daughter also has the swallowing issues and it got so severe (we had no idea about Celiac) that she had to do intensive therapy to learn how to swallow again. It got better but never resolved. Once she went gluten-free it got way better though a recent exposure to oats caused it to flare up again. Do you mind me asking - Has your swallowing issues 100% resolved being gluten-free? Does it ever actually go away and stay away or will it always pop up from time to time?

I will say what everyone else says and get tested again with the endoscope and biopsy to confirm, you will need to be on gluten for 12 weeks for blood test 2 weeks for endoscope at least a slice of bead a day. The thing about celiac is many symptoms can be quite minor, hell even before I had my MAJOR symptoms show I had some of the other issues show up in my every day life and I just thought it was normal. Regardless if you keep eating gluten with celiac disease it will slowly eat away at your body internally til it does become a problem. Celiac is a autoimmune disease that reacts to the gluten proteins, and has misdirected attacks on your own body internally by mistake trying to kill the gluten. Now the damage can lead to all kinds of other auto immune diseases, random allergies, food intolerance, and even cancer. I suggest if you do have it, stay on the gluten-free diet, your just basically changing brands there are many gluten-free food versions of everything now days. Be thankful you got this early, I developed issues with dairy, corn, peanuts, and a whole list of others along with another autoimmune disease Ulcerative Colitis that makes it so I can not eat sugars or carbs or my intestines swell. Getting on a gluten-free diet before your damage progresses will not only keep you healthier for longer, and let you live a pretty normal life but also save you from this pain and very limited diet if the damage progresses too much. As to your fatigue, you changed over to gluten-free diet, you stopped eating a bunch of the Fortified foods, and depending on the route you took of either whole foods ore more processed foods. You could be eating to many empty carbs, starches, and not enough nutrients. OR if you took the whole foods approach you be lacking in your daily calorie intake or not the right ratio of nutrients. You might have to supplement a few of them.

REALLY odd call out here, I am attending a anime convention called A-Fest in Dallas come August, I need someone to split the room with it who is gluten-free. I take extra precautions, I COOK all the food, bring only CERTIFIED foods into the room, The room will be Gluten Free, Corn Free, Dairy Free, Peanut Free. I am trying to find someone to split the room cost with, that would be safe to be around I CAN NOT AFFORD to get sick at one of these things, it is one of my few joys left in life and get very paranoid around them. So I need someone who is also gluten-free to make sure the room stays safe (YES I have done with with a non celiac with the rules down and well stuff happens so not chancing it). Room split is food coverage comes to $400 if it is just two people. 4 day convention, I will arrange a meal plan around your diet as long as it is free of my allergens. I will also provide various snacks, baked goods, and even stuff to take home with you. https://animefest.org/ ^Convention info.

Hi Jennifer, This thread might have some information that would help you. Your doctors are pretty lame IMHO. Perhaps you can find a celiac group in your area that has local meetings for support. They might also suggest a different doctor who knows how to treat celiac patients.

The initial reason gluten free diets came about was to treat a condition called celiac disease?an autoimmune disorder known to affect at least three ... View the full article