A prospective study of dietary carbohydrate quantity and quality in relation to risk of ovulatory infertility

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jan;63(1):78-86. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602904. Epub 2007 Sep 19.


Objective: To evaluate whether the amount or quality of carbohydrate in diet is associated with ovulatory infertility.

Subjects and methods: In total, 18,555 married, premenopausal women without a history of infertility were followed as they attempted a pregnancy or became pregnant during an 8-year period. Diet was assessed two times during follow-up using a validated food-frequency questionnaire and prospectively related to the incidence of infertility due ovulatory disorder.

Results: During follow-up, 438 women reported ovulatory infertility. Total carbohydrate intake and dietary glycemic load were positively related to ovulatory infertility in analyses adjusted for age, body mass index, smoking, parity, physical activity, recency of contraception, total energy intake, protein intake and other dietary variables. The multivariable-adjusted risk ratio (RR) (95% confidence interval (CI)) of ovulatory infertility comparing the highest-to-lowest quintile of total carbohydrate intake was 1.91 (1.27-3.02). The corresponding RR (95% CI) for dietary glycemic load was 1.92 (1.26-2.92). Dietary glycemic index was positively related to ovulatory infertility only among nulliparous women. Intakes of fiber from different sources were unrelated to ovulatory infertility risk.

Conclusions: The amount and quality of carbohydrate in diet may be important determinants of ovulation and fertility in healthy women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diet Surveys
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / pharmacology*
  • Dietary Fiber / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Glycemic Index
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Female / physiopathology*
  • Infertility, Female / prevention & control
  • Logistic Models
  • Ovulation / drug effects*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fiber