Higher urinary lignan concentrations in women but not men are positively associated with shorter time to pregnancy

Sunni L. Mumford, Rajeshwari Sundaram, Enrique F. Schisterman, Anne M. Sweeney, Dana Boyd Barr, Michael E. Rybak, Jose M. Maisog, Daniel L. Parker, Christine M. Pfeiffer, Germaine M. Buck Louis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Phytoestrogens have been associated with subtle hormonal changes, although effects on fecundity are unknown. Our objective was to evaluate the association between male and female urinary phytoestrogen (isoflavone and lignan) concentrations and time to pregnancy (TTP) in a population-based cohort of 501 couples desiring pregnancy and discontinuing contraception. Couples were followed for 12 mo or until pregnancy. Fecundability ORs (FORs) and 95% CIs were estimated after adjusting for age, body mass index, race, site, creatinine, supplement use, and physical activity in relation to female, male, and joint couple concentrations. Models included the phytoestrogen of interest and the sum of the remaining individual phytoestrogens. FORs 1 a shorter TTP. Urinary lignan concentrations were higher, on average, among female partners of couples who became pregnant during the study compared with women who did not become pregnant (median enterodiol: 118 vs. 80 nmol/L; P <0.10; median enterolactone: 990 vs. 412 nmol/L; P <0.05) and were associated with significantly shorter TTP in models based on both individual and couples' concentrations (couples' models: enterodiol FOR, 1.13; 95% CI: 1.02, 1.26; enterolactone FOR, 1.11; 95% CI: 1.01, 1.21). Male lignan concentrations were not associated with TTP, nor were isoflavone concentrations. Sensitivity analyses showed that associations observed are unlikely to be explained by potential unmeasured confounding by lifestyle or other nutrients. Our results suggest that female urinary lignan concentrations at levels characteristic of the U.S. population are associated with a shorter TTP among couples who are attempting to conceive, highlighting the importance of dietary influences on fecundity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)352-358
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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