Survey Says: Male Infertility and Celiac Disease Unrelated

Given all the complications that come along with untreated celiac disease, it’s always nice when we find a medical issue that doesn’t seem to be linked to gluten intolerance.

One such issue? Male infertility.

It’s surprising, and maybe a bit “unfair” of Mother Nature – after all, women with untreated celiac disease are prone to an array of reproductive concerns. Some statistics indicate that they menstruate later and hit menopause earlier, and in between those two lifecycle events they seem to have higher rates of miscarriage.

Ah, men. According to a new study out of Sweden, you and your “distinguished” salt and pepper hair win again.

As explained to Reuters Health, the study reviewed data from almost 40,000 Swedish men, 7,000 of whom had celiac disease. Taking the years of diagnosis and childbirth into account, it seems that the average number of children-per-man was relatively unchanged regardless of diagnosis (or lack thereof).

The men studied were born anywhere from 1914 to 1990, and were followed either up to age 54 or up to 2008, when the study ended. This means that some of them men were only 18 when the study ended, and so I’m not really sure why their rate of fertility is statistically valid – but in general the broad sample means the results should be fairly accurate.

The doctors who completed the study acknowledged that future research would ideally identify men with celiac disease and track their child-having going forward into the future.

The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness has a great collection of information regarding celiac disease and infertility, for anyone interested in researching the intersections of the two further.

And of course, a friendly reminder: just because untreated celiac disease may not impact male fertility negatively doesn’t mean it doesn’t impact males negatively. Both sexes are at risk for enough other complications – diabetes, thyroid disease, osteoporosis, cancer, etc. – that willfully ignoring a diagnosis isn’t a good idea for anyone.

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