Dietary factors and luteal phase deficiency in healthy eumenorrheic women

Mary A. Andrews, Karen C. Schliep, Jean Wactawski-Wende, Joseph B. Stanford, Shvetha M. Zarek, Rose G. Radin, Lindsey A. Sjaarda, Neil J. Perkins, Robyn A. Kalwerisky, Ahmad O. Hammoud, Sunni L. Mumford*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


STUDY QUESTION: Are prospectively assessed dietary factors, including overall diet quality, macronutrients and micronutrients, associated with luteal phase deficiency (LPD) in healthy reproductive aged women with regular menstrual cycles? SUMMARY ANSWER: Mediterranean Diet Score (MDS), fiber and isoflavone intake were positively associated with LPD while selenium was negatively associated with LPD after adjusting for age, percentage body fat and total energy intake. WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: LPD may increase the risk of infertility and early miscarriage. Prior research has shown positive associations between LPD and low energy availability, either through high dietary restraint alone or in conjunction with high energy expenditure via exercise, but few studies with adequate sample sizes have been conducted investigating dietary factors and LPD among healthy, eumenorrheic women. STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION: The BioCycle Study (2005-2007) prospectively enrolled 259 women from Western New York state, USA, and followed them for one (n = 9) or two (n = 250) menstrual cycles. PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS: Women aged 18-44 years, with self-reported BMI between 18 and 35 kg/m2 and cycle lengths between 21 and 35 days, were included in the study. Participants completed baseline questionnaires, four 24-h dietary recalls per cycle and daily diaries capturing vigorous exercise, perceived stress and sleep; they also provided up to eight fasting serum samples during clinic visits timed to specific phases of the menstrual cycle using a fertility monitor. Cycles were included for this analysis if the peak serum luteal progesterone was >1 ng/ml and a urine or serum LH surge was detected. Associations between prospectively assessed diet quality, macronutrients and micronutrients and LPD (defined as luteal duration <10 days) were evaluated using generalized linear models adjusting for age, percentage body fat and total energy intake. MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE: LPD occurred in 41 (8.9%) of the 463 cycles from 246 women in the final analysis. After adjusting for age, percentage body fat and total energy intake, LPD was positively associated with MDS, adjusted odds ratio (aOR): 1.70 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.17, 2.48), P = 0.01. In separate macro- and micronutrient adjusted models, increased fiber and isoflavone intake showed modest positive associations with LPD: fiber (per g), aOR: 1.10 (95% CI: 0.99, 1.23), P = 0.07; and isoflavones (per 10 mg), aOR: 1.38 (95% CI: 0.99, 1.92), P = 0.06. In contrast, selenium (per 10 mcg) was inversely associated with LPD, aOR: 0.80 (95% CI: 0.65, 0.97), P = 0.03. Additional adjustments for relevant lifestyle factors including vigorous exercise, perceived stress and sleep did not appreciably alter estimates. LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION: The number of LPD cycles was limited, and thus these findings are exploratory. We relied on participant self-report of their medical history to apply exclusion criteria; it is possible that we admitted to the study women with a gynecologic or medical disease who were unaware of their diagnosis. WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS: Our study suggests that diet quality may be associated with LPD among healthy eumenorrheic women. As LPD may contribute to infertility and early miscarriage, further research is warranted to elucidate how dietary factors, such as MDS, may influence LPD. The inverse association we found with selenium is supported by previous research and deserves further investigation to determine whether this finding has pathophysiologic and therapeutic implications. STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S): This work was supported by the Intramural Research Program, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health. No competing interests declared.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1942-1951
Number of pages10
JournalHuman Reproduction
Issue number8
StatePublished - 22 May 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Mediterranean diet
  • fiber
  • luteal phase deficiency
  • menstrual cycle
  • selenium


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