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When is it too late to get pregnant while followng a paleo diet?

by (467)
Updated about 22 hours ago
Created March 24, 2012 at 7:02 PM

I've decided very early that I don't want to have children. Many women have told me that I'm going to change my mind someday, since they did. I haven't changed my mind yet, but I'm always a bit afraid of later regretting not having children.

I'm 34 years old and have been paleo for about 4 months now. I know that the age to have a healthy baby has been increasing, but I wonder if a paleo diet could mean the eggs don't go bad so early. I don't know much about the science, and I don't even know if the "eggs going bad" is true or not. Is it? If so, could paleo then make a difference on how soon it happens?

I also don't know whether it's true that women go through menopause at about the same age as their moms did. If that's true, then since my mom entered menopause when she was 42 (which I think is a bit earlier that most women), perhaps I would not be very fertile earlier than most women. Does anyone have any knowledge on that?

I just wish I could postpone thinking about that for 10 or more years...

PS: I do like children. :)

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467 · March 30, 2012 at 1:41 PM

@Kat540 I've always heard that it's the age of the first child that matters most, but I don't know whether that's true or not

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0 · March 30, 2012 at 12:55 AM

I'm the youngest of 3, my mom had me when she was 40. I've even seen stories of women in their 50's and 60's having babies though I think most of the time they conceived using IVF then, but it can be done.

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2341 · March 25, 2012 at 3:04 AM

RE bowel damage - I've no idea. I never had IBS - only mild constipation. I have a auto-immune joint problem - maye mild lupus like my mother, menstrual issues and hashimotos. I only discovered gluten was an issue when my joint inflammation went on a paleo diet

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2341 · March 25, 2012 at 3:01 AM

Yes we wanted 2 kids, and it made sense to adopt both at once. We opted for kids 1 - 5years, in order to assess any developmental issues. In Russia they like to keep sibs together, so chance of adopting quickly is faster for toddlers and sibs. Our two have a strong connection, and even though they are 1/2 sibs look similar.

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1307 · March 25, 2012 at 1:26 AM

@Wowza, I think you're a little off on your percentage of women over 40 who can conceive using donor eggs. I'm not sure what the percentage is, but I've been told a number of times and it is WAY higher than 10%. When the issue is old eggs, once that obstacle is removed, many many women are able to become pregnant.

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24538 · March 24, 2012 at 10:57 PM

Gotta ad one more thing, I really wish there was a way we could structure our society to support women better. So much of needing/wanting to put off having children is that it locks us into a life of poverty if we breed before we have amassed enough resources of our own or procured a stable mate with enough resources to support a family, which takes at the very least until our 30's unless were born into that lucky 1%.

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24538 · March 24, 2012 at 10:51 PM

Damn! I guess I was just one of the lucky 4 outta 10. I suppose I should rein in my enthusiasm a bit about the actual effectiveness of diet on fertility when talking to my fellow PCOSers trying to conceive.

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56616 · March 24, 2012 at 9:52 PM

did you have bowel damage from gluten?

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785 · March 24, 2012 at 9:03 PM

(a) Thank you! and (b) Girl, I know *exactly* what you're sayin'.

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467 · March 24, 2012 at 8:54 PM

I think the same way as you. :)

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467 · March 24, 2012 at 8:53 PM

Your avatar sure looks very healthy, and so cute. :) I sometimes think that the reason I'm not sure is because I haven't found the right person to have children with yet...

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467 · March 24, 2012 at 8:43 PM

Wow, brother and sister! If having children I would like more than one, so that they would help each other when older. :)

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467 · March 24, 2012 at 8:03 PM

Thanks for your answer, I too tend to think that eating healthier would mean an older age would be OK. If adopting, I like the idea of an older child, since most people prefer adopting babies and the older ones have lower chances of finding a home.

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467 · March 24, 2012 at 7:49 PM

@Happy Now: Yes, adopting would be an option. "being a mom makes you feel old no matter what", LOL

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24538 · March 24, 2012 at 7:37 PM

How important is it to you that they are your biological children? If 10 years from now feels like the right time to start a family it might not work to have your own, but there are lots of little one's out there in the world looking for a good mom. That said, most of the people I know didn't feel settled enough to start families until their late 30's, and many have had their first babies in their early 40's. Don't worry about the old mom thing, being a mom makes you feel old no matter what ;)

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467 · March 24, 2012 at 7:23 PM

@A at Grain Free Diet: Thanks, I didn't know about CFBC. Yeah, I don't like when people tell me I'll definitely change my mind, and then laugh at me, lol. But my worst experience was someone who got angry at me thinking I didn't like children...

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467 · March 24, 2012 at 7:20 PM

@Melissa I've looked a bit into freezing eggs, but besides expensive, I would prefer to avoid the procedure (although maybe it isn't that bad, I don't know). There's another thing I forgot to mention, which is that I wouldn't like to be an old mom. Thanks for your answer, I'll check Kresser's blog :)

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467 · March 24, 2012 at 7:19 PM

I've looked a bit into freezing eggs, but besides expensive, I would prefer to avoid the procedure (although maybe it isn't that bad, I don't know). I forgot to mention that I wouldn't like to be an old mom. Thanks for your answer, I'll check Kresser's blog :)

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6889 · March 24, 2012 at 7:15 PM

I agree with Melissa, but I'd also look into some CFBC (aka "Childfree by Choice") groups and speak with those people as well. It looks like you are undecided about this and exploring both sides might help you decide what your feelings are about it. CFBC people aren't crazy child-haters. They are just people who decided having children wasn't for them. (That said, I really find the "oh you'll change your mind" thing very condescending. As if someone else knows your mind better than you. Incredibly rude.)

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56616 · March 24, 2012 at 7:05 PM

I think chris kresser's wife was older than you when she got pregnant, 38 I believe. You might check out some of his writing on the subject. However, if I were you I'd explore freezing some eggs or embryos just in case.

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5 Answers

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785 · March 24, 2012 at 8:17 PM

Like you, I never planned on having children. I worked with kids for years--teaching, daycare, summer camp--I just thought having my own wasn't for me.

Long story short, I ended up having a healthy baby when I was 38 (I just turned 40). My aunt had her youngest at 38, and my grandmother had her when she was 38. All healthy babies delivered by moms who were AMA (advanced maternal age). That term still makes me laugh!

When I was pregnant, one of my tests came back abnormal (AFP). Everyone was freaking out--me, most of all. I went to the specialist and was told that my baby had a higher chance of having Down's, but my chances of having a perfectly healthy baby was something like 97%. That's a high number for someone who is supposedly at high risk for having a DS baby.

All this to say that, although there is a slightly elevated chance of having something go wrong, the risk is nowhere near what "they" say. I have been doing some research in this area and IMO, I believe that a nutrient dense, gluten-free diet does improve your chances of having a successful pregnancy.

And if you choose to pass on having kids, that's cool, too. I have friends who are very happy in their child-free lives.

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785 · March 24, 2012 at 9:03 PM

(a) Thank you! and (b) Girl, I know *exactly* what you're sayin'.

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467 · March 24, 2012 at 8:53 PM

Your avatar sure looks very healthy, and so cute. :) I sometimes think that the reason I'm not sure is because I haven't found the right person to have children with yet...

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2341 · March 24, 2012 at 8:12 PM

Fertility drops off a lot in your 30's, paleo or not paleo. I was never able to get pregnant. But I was not eating paleo either. If only I'd known I was gluten sensitive. I would look at freezing eggs if you think you might want children later.

Adoption is always an incredible option. We adopted a brother and sister (3 and 5) from Russia 10 years ago. We decided that we wouldn't spend thousands on fertility treatment (I was 40 anyway so the chances of getting pregnant were small) when there are hundreds of thousands of kids without parent. And yes adopting slightly older kids meant we had a very fast adoption process and we had an idea about how capable the children were, more of a known quantity intellectually / could tell if they had any developmental issues.

Yes I know that my biological kids would be great, but I don't feel I have to have only bio kids.

Adopting is not without risk, and kids brains don't wire well in an orphanage.

However, despite some behavioural issues, (opositional, attachment disorder) our kids are great; smart, funny, outgoing, interesting, athletic, and have their own areas of talent.

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467 · March 24, 2012 at 8:43 PM

Wow, brother and sister! If having children I would like more than one, so that they would help each other when older. :)

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56616 · March 24, 2012 at 9:52 PM

did you have bowel damage from gluten?

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2341 · March 25, 2012 at 3:01 AM

Yes we wanted 2 kids, and it made sense to adopt both at once. We opted for kids 1 - 5years, in order to assess any developmental issues. In Russia they like to keep sibs together, so chance of adopting quickly is faster for toddlers and sibs. Our two have a strong connection, and even though they are 1/2 sibs look similar.

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2341 · March 25, 2012 at 3:04 AM

RE bowel damage - I've no idea. I never had IBS - only mild constipation. I have a auto-immune joint problem - maye mild lupus like my mother, menstrual issues and hashimotos. I only discovered gluten was an issue when my joint inflammation went on a paleo diet

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7275 · March 24, 2012 at 7:30 PM

I don't think the "eggs go bad" so much as your body, as you age, isn't as good as weeding out the bad ones by terminating the pregnancy very early.

I'm in a similar position as you. I'm 30 years old and have never wanted children. I love children, it's just that being a mom has never been one of my life goals. Lots of people have told me that I'd change my mind at age 30, but it hasn't happened, and I doubt it will.

I do suspect that the increased health you'd attain by eating more nutrient dense foods such as on a paleo diet would put your body in a better position to grow a healthy baby, if you decide to have a baby at an older age.

Would you be up for adopting, if you decide you wanted a kid in ten years but felt your body wasn't up for the task? Even better, if you adopt an older child as opposed to an infant, then you know what you're getting into (i.e. you know the kid's personality ahead of time) and the child would be older so that would make up for you being a bit older, if you were worried about being an older parent. Adoption is my plan in case I decide later in life that I want kids. And that way, too, I have the added benefit of knowing that I helped a child in need, since it seems older children have a harder time finding families than infants.

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467 · March 24, 2012 at 8:03 PM

Thanks for your answer, I too tend to think that eating healthier would mean an older age would be OK. If adopting, I like the idea of an older child, since most people prefer adopting babies and the older ones have lower chances of finding a home.

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1528 · March 24, 2012 at 10:33 PM

Of course we respect everyone's life choices. If you don't want kids, that's your moral choice. From an evolutionary perspective, nature has a different answer.

In general, I find many women have still never been told the truth about their fertility. In your 20s, your chance of conception is about 25% a month. Somewhere between 28-33, it declines to about 20-15% per month. At 35, you sink to about 10% a month. At 40, you sink again to about 5% a month. "Estimates from embryo biopsy reveal that at least 90% of a woman???s eggs are genetically abnormal when a woman is over 40."

Even if you go the IVF route, your changes to conception only return you to 10%. By 45, your chances of conception w/o technology fall to 1% a month. Beyond age 45, only a very rare woman can naturally conceive at all - the overwhelming majority will need donor eggs. And their chances of conceiving even then rarely return to 10%.

Dr. Michael Fox, a Florida fertility specialist, has had remarkable success with women over 30 who have issues such as PCOS by placing them on a VLC/ketogenic diet. And by remarkable he means just 4 in 10.

Again, I respect your choices. But don't please engage in magical thinking about your fertility as so many do. I hear many of my colleagues say "I'll just have IVF at 40." So they spend $60K and still can't conceive. Thus if you're uncertain, you should in fact take Melissa's advice and freeze what you can.

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24538 · March 24, 2012 at 10:57 PM

Gotta ad one more thing, I really wish there was a way we could structure our society to support women better. So much of needing/wanting to put off having children is that it locks us into a life of poverty if we breed before we have amassed enough resources of our own or procured a stable mate with enough resources to support a family, which takes at the very least until our 30's unless were born into that lucky 1%.

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1307 · March 25, 2012 at 1:26 AM

@Wowza, I think you're a little off on your percentage of women over 40 who can conceive using donor eggs. I'm not sure what the percentage is, but I've been told a number of times and it is WAY higher than 10%. When the issue is old eggs, once that obstacle is removed, many many women are able to become pregnant.

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24538 · March 24, 2012 at 10:51 PM

Damn! I guess I was just one of the lucky 4 outta 10. I suppose I should rein in my enthusiasm a bit about the actual effectiveness of diet on fertility when talking to my fellow PCOSers trying to conceive.

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3049 · March 24, 2012 at 8:34 PM

I'm in the same boat as you, Pedrita. I'm 31, never wanted to have children and still don't. All of my life people have told me I will regret this decision, but I haven't wavered. I do love children, but I'm unwilling to bring more into this world unless I can really devote myself to them, and bringing them up well. I have seen too many born into families where they are ignored as the parents pursue their own interests at the expense of family time and parenting. (please note I'm NOT saying parents must lose their individuality or stop pursuing their interests- simply that becoming a parent should be a conscious choice to share your life with your children.)

Adoption has always been an option, and should I change my mind this is my first choice. Why? Because so many children already need a loving home, and if I determine that I'm in a financial and emotional place to provide this I would want to help them first.

All the best to you!

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467 · March 24, 2012 at 8:54 PM

I think the same way as you. :)

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