Dieting influences the menstrual cycle: vegetarian versus nonvegetarian diet

Fertil Steril. 1986 Dec;46(6):1083-8.


Eighteen healthy, normal-weight women aged 19 to 27 years who had regular ovulatory menstrual cycles volunteered for the study. Blood was drawn on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays throughout the control cycle and during a 6-week diet period that began with commencement of a new cycle. Nine women followed a vegetarian diet and nine a nonvegetarian diet. Both groups lost an average of 1 kg body weight/week. Seven of nine women in the vegetarian group became anovulatory. During the vegetarian diet the average luteinizing hormone (LH) values were significantly decreased during the midcycle and the luteal phase. Estradiol (E2) and progesterone (P) values were significantly lower during the luteal phase. In contrast, the nonvegetarian group did not show significant reduction of LH, E2, and P values during any part of the menstrual cycle. Seven of nine women in the nonvegetarian diet group maintained ovulatory cycles with no changes in cycle length or in the length of the follicular phase. In one woman who became anovulatory, E2 values did not increase during the follicular phase.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3-Hydroxybutyric Acid
  • Adult
  • Body Weight
  • Diet, Reducing* / adverse effects
  • Diet, Vegetarian* / adverse effects
  • Estradiol / blood
  • Female
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone / blood
  • Humans
  • Hydroxybutyrates / blood
  • Infertility, Female / etiology
  • Luteinizing Hormone / blood
  • Menstrual Cycle*
  • Progesterone / blood


  • Hydroxybutyrates
  • Progesterone
  • Estradiol
  • Luteinizing Hormone
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone
  • 3-Hydroxybutyric Acid