Diet and sex-hormone binding globulin, dysmenorrhea, and premenstrual symptoms

Obstet Gynecol. 2000 Feb;95(2):245-50. doi: 10.1016/s0029-7844(99)00525-6.


Objective: To test the hypothesis that a low-fat, vegetarian diet reduces dysmenorrhea and premenstrual symptoms by its effect on serum sex-hormone binding globulin concentration and estrogen activity.

Methods: In a crossover design, 33 women followed a low-fat, vegetarian diet for two menstrual cycles. For two additional cycles, they followed their customary diet while taking a supplement placebo pill. Dietary intake, serum sex-hormone binding globulin concentration, body weight, pain duration and intensity, and premenstrual symptoms were assessed during each study phase.

Results: Mean (+/- standard deviation [SD]) serum sex-hormone binding globulin concentration was higher during the diet phase (46.7 +/- 23.6 nmol/L) than during the supplement phase (39.3 +/- 19.8 nmol/L, P < .001). Mean (+/- SD) body weight was lower during the diet (66.1 +/- 11.3 kg) compared with the supplement phase (67.9 +/- 12.1 kg, P < .001). Mean dysmenorrhea duration fell significantly from baseline (3.9 +/- 1.7 days) to diet phase (2.7 +/- 1.9 days) compared with change from baseline to supplement phase (3.6 +/- 1.7 days, P < .01). Pain intensity fell significantly during the diet phase, compared with baseline, for the worst, second-worst, and third-worst days, and mean durations of premenstrual concentration, behavioral change, and water retention symptoms were reduced significantly, compared with the supplement phase.

Conclusion: A low-fat vegetarian diet was associated with increased serum sex-hormone binding globulin concentration and reductions in body weight, dysmenorrhea duration and intensity, and premenstrual symptom duration. The symptom effects might be mediated by dietary influences on estrogen activity.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Diet, Fat-Restricted*
  • Diet, Vegetarian
  • Dysmenorrhea / blood*
  • Dysmenorrhea / diet therapy
  • Estrogens / blood*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Premenstrual Syndrome / blood*
  • Premenstrual Syndrome / diet therapy
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin / metabolism*


  • Estrogens
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin