Background: Dairy foods and lactose may impair fertility by affecting ovulatory function. Yet, few studies have been conducted in humans and their results are inconsistent. We evaluated whether intake of dairy foods was associated with anovulatory infertility and whether this association differed according to fat content.
Methods: We prospectively followed 18,555 married, premenopausal women without a history of infertility who attempted a pregnancy or became pregnant during an 8-year period. Diet was assessed twice during the study using food-frequency questionnaires.
Results: During follow-up, 438 women reported infertility due to an ovulatory disorder. The multivariate-adjusted relative risks (RR) [95% confidence interval (CI); P, trend] of anovulatory infertility comparing women consuming > or = 2 servings per day to women consuming < or = 1 serving per week was 1.85 (1.24-2.77; 0.002) for low-fat dairy foods. The RR (95% CI; P, trend) comparing women consuming > or = 1 serving per day of high-fat dairy foods to those consuming < or = 1 serving per week was 0.73 (0.52-1.01; 0.01). There was an inverse association between dairy fat intake and anovulatory infertility (P, trend = 0.05). Intakes of lactose, calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D were unrelated to anovulatory infertility.
Conclusions: High intake of low-fat dairy foods may increase the risk of anovulatory infertility whereas intake of high-fat dairy foods may decrease this risk. Further, lactose (the main carbohydrate in milk and dairy products) may not affect fertility within the usual range of intake levels in humans.