January 29, 2013

Gluten and Endometriosis – Is There a Connection?


Endometriosis is  a common condition affecting as many as 10% of women in the U.S.  The condition occurs when cells from the inner uterus grow outside of the uterus in the abdominal cavity.  The cells are under the influence of hormones especially during menstruation.  During this time they are stimulated and subsequently inflammatory pain is often times a manifestation of the condition.  Other common symptoms linked to endometriosis are:

  • Painful abdominal cramps
  • Low back pain
  • Painful coitus (sex)
  • Pain with urination and urinary frequency
  • Infertility

Pelvic pain in women accounts for 10-40% of all gynecologic office visits.  A new research study found that the gluten free diet led to dramatic pelvic pain reduction in women suffering with endometriosis – begging the question – “Is endometriosis a manifestation of non celiac gluten sensitivity?”  Below is an excerpt from the study…

At 12 month follow-up, 156 patients (75%) reported statistically significant change in painful symptoms (P<0.005), 51 patients (25%) reported not improvement of symptoms. No patients reported worsening of pain. A considerable increase of scores for all domains of physical functioning, general health perception, vitality, social functioning, and mental health was observed in all patients (P<0.005).
CONCLUSION:  In our experience, painful symptoms of endometriosis decrease after 12 months of gluten free diet.

Source: Minerva Chir. 2012 Dec;67(6):499-504.

This is not the first time gluten free has improved hormone issues…

Gluten has been shown to disrupt hormones in numerous research studies.  The following are common hormone based diseases influenced by the gluten free diet:

 Many Mechanisms Are At Play

Gluten induced hormone imbalance can occur via multiple mechanisms.

  1. Gluten can cause malabsorption of fat leading to female hormone deficiency
  2. Gluten can cause malabsorption of vitamins and minerals that help regulate blood sugar, thyroid hormone function, estrogen and progesterone balance, testosterone, cortisol, adrenaline, dopamine, serotonin, and growth hormone production.
  3. Gluten can cause inflammation that damages organs responsible for the production of hormones.
  4. Gluten can induce autoimmune reactions that lead to the body’s immune system attacking hormones, hormone receptors, and the organs responsible for producing hormones.
  5. Gluten can cause leaky gut contributing to immune system dysfunction and altered regulation.

Always looking out for you,

Dr. Osborne – The Gluten Free Warrior

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