Can Gluten Can Wreck Your Sex Life?

We all want to feel healthy and vibrant, and we know that there are many ways that gluten can get in the way of feeling our best. But… can gluten impact your sex life? From fatigue and gastrointestinal distress to skin issues and headaches, gluten can interfere with our wellbeing in so many ways. 

But can gluten really start to impact your personal relationships? You might be surprised. This article will discuss:

  • The importance of a healthy sex life
  • The health benefits of sex
  • How celiac disease might impact sex in both men and women
  • How celiac disease might impact a couple’s relationship
  • How nutrient deficiencies can lead to sexual dysfunction

The importance of a healthy sex life 

Research has shown that sex is beneficial to our health in a variety of ways. Sex activates a number of neurotransmitters that positively impact our brain and other organs throughout the body. Sex releases serotonin, endorphins, and phenyl-ethylamine, hormones that generate feelings of euphoria, pleasure, and elation. In addition, sex increases intimacy and feelings of closeness between sexual partners.

Health benefits of sex

Sex can benefit our health in the following ways:

How gluten may impact your sex life

Research shows that sexual function is often impaired in patients with chronic illnesses. Specifically, patients with chronic gastrointestinal and liver disorders have been shown to suffer from sexual dysfunction. Both men and women can have sexual function impacted by gluten.

Men

Research has shown that men with celiac disease experience gonad atrophy and compromised semen quality. This lead to impotence and decreased sexual activity, but interestingly, improved after removing gluten from the diet. Another study also reported decreased sexual activity in men with celiac disease. This may be due to higher incidence of erectile and sexual dysfunction.

In addition, research suggests that men with untreated celiac disease experience resistance to male hormones, but that treatment could reverse this resistance. Men may also experience compromised semen quality and loss of libido, which can impact fertility outcomes.

Women

Sexual dysfunction is often considered a male problem, but women can experience it too. In fact, research shows that women with celiac disease may experience it more frequently than women without celiac disease. One study found that 50% of female participants experienced sexual dysfunction, 61% had low sexual desire, 46% had arousal disorder, 39% had lubrication disorder, 49% were unable to obtain an orgasm, and 95% showed a score suggestive of sexual pain. These characteristics may be due to systemic inflammation in female celiac patients.

 

Couples

Gluten can cause a loss of libido or lack of sex drive alongside other physiological impairments. This means that couples in which one or both partners is living with untreated celiac disease may suffer from compromised sex lives, a strained relationship, and an overall poor quality of life.

How nutrient deficiencies can lead to sexual dysfunction

Many nutrients that are key to both overall health and sexual function are absorbed in the small intestine. When the small intestine is damaged by gluten, absorption is impaired. Those with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity frequently experience malnutrition of key nutrients due to malabsorption.

The following nutrients are both important to sexual function and are also commonly deficient in those with celiac disease:

  • Vitamin D: Research shows that vitamin D is needed for an adequate erectile function, and that vitamin D is crucial for a better healthy body and sexual activity.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Men with erectile dysfunction have decreased vascular nitric oxide and circulating and cellular antioxidants. Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammatory markers, decrease cardiac death, and increase endothelial nitric oxide production, which support men with erectile dysfunction. 
  • Vitamin B3: Research on Niacin (vitamin B3) reported a “significant effect” of niacin on erectile function when 1500 mg was taken daily for 12 weeks.
  • Vitamin C, Folate, Vitamin E: Research suggests that these three nutrients support the biochemical pathways that lead to the release of nitric oxide, which is critical to erectile function. 

The bottom line

Celiac disease and gluten have detrimental effects on your health, and a good foundation of health is critical to a healthy libido and sexual function. By removing gluten from the diet and addressing nutrient deficiencies, you can make progress toward a solid health foundation, reduced inflammation, and a healthy sex life!

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