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Dietary intakes in infertile women a pilot study

Ottavia Colombo1*, Giovanna Pinelli1, Mario Comelli1, Pierpaolo Marchetti1, Sabina Sieri2, Furio Brighenti3, Rossella E Nappi4 and Anna Tagliabue1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Applied Health Sciences, University of Pavia, via Bassi 21, 27100 Pavia, Italy

2 Nutritional Epidemiology Unit, National Cancer Institute, Via Venezian 1, 20133 Milan, Italy

3 Department of Public Health, University of Parma, via Volturno 39, 43100 Parma, Italy

4 Research Centre for Reproductive Medicine, Dept of Morphological, Eidological and Clinical Sciences & Gynecological Endocrinology Unit, Dept of Internal Medicine & Endocrinology, IRCCS S. Maugeri Foundation, University of Pavia, Via Ferrata 8 - 27100 Pavia, Italy

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Nutrition Journal 2009, 8:53  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-8-53

Published: 10 November 2009



The reproductive axis is closely linked to nutritional status. The purpose of this study was to compare the nutritional status in two groups of young infertile women, without clinically overt eating disorders: hypothalamic amenorrhea (HA) and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).


Eighteen young infertile women (10 HA, 8 PCOS) attending an outpatient gynecological endocrinology unit, underwent evaluation of anthropometry, body composition, dietary intakes by means of a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) and a seven-day food diary (7DD), and psychological characteristics by means of EDI2 and SCL90 tests.


HA women had lower BMI and body fat compared to PCOS women. Habitual intake derived from FFQs showed a similar macronutrient distribution between groups (about 16% protein, 33% fat, 52% carbohydrates). The psychometric profiles of the two groups did not differ significantly. The underreporting of dietary intakes (measured as habitual energy intake by FFQs/basal metabolic rate) was found to be negatively correlated with the interpersonal sensitivity SCL-90 subscale scores (r = -0.54, p = 0.02).


Our study identified differences in body composition but not in dietary habits between HA and PCOS infertile women. We documented, for the first time, a relationship between the accuracy of dietary surveys and the psychological characteristics of subjects with anovulation. This finding suggests that it may be important to be aware of the psychological terrain when planning a dietary survey in infertile women.