Trouble Conceiving? 3 Most Common Mistakes Couples Make

by Dr. Jennifer Fitzgerald ND | Follow on Twitter

Do you have a troubling fertility case? Find out the best tracking program, fertility product and expert tips to getting your patients pregnant.

TREATING INFERTILITY CASES CAN BE CHALLENGING AND EMOTIONAL. Many couples think that they can start practicing healthy lifestyle choices and go visit their ND after they get pregnant. Here are the 3 most common mistakes that couples make while trying to conceive:

Part 1 – Timing is EVERYTHING

I see this common mistake all the time. Contrary to what we learned in high school sex ed, not everyone has a 28 day cycle OR ovulates on day 14.

A normal menstrual cycle can last between 25-31 days, and ovulation can occur anywhere between day 11 and 17 depending on the length of your cycle (if you are regular, count back 14 days and that is likely around the time you ovulate).

Irregular cycles make timing MUCH more difficult. Start tracking you cycle and sign up to an online cycle monitoring website (I like Fertility Friend). It will help you determine the cycle length and ovulation time based on basal body temperature, cervical mucus and other signals sent out in preparation for ovulation.

It tracks intercourse, pregnancy and ovulation test results and allows customization to track your vitamins, supplements and fertility medications. The charts help pinpoint any potential hormonal issues which may need to be addressed before conception will occur.

It’s also a great way for my patients to visually see their progress over time, which motivates them to stay on track with their diet and supplements.

Knowing when you ovulate is important since eggs only live for up to 24 hours after ovulation (sperm can live up to 4-5 days inside the female).

For the best chances of conception, couples should have intercourse on the few days before and during ovulation. No need to have intercourse daily, once every other day is enough for most couples.


Basal body temperature (BBT) tracking for a woman’s menstrual cycle


If you are under 35, most couples will conceive on their own within a year, and there is no reason to seek help before then unless you have underlying medical issues that may be interfering.

If you are over 35 but less than 40, 6 months of trying is the rule of thumb before seeking help, and if you are over 40 it is recommended to seek help right away.

Part 2 – To Lube or Not to Lube

Lubrication is one of the most common things overlooked.

Lubrication is a commonly overlooked part of conception.

Lubrication is a commonly overlooked part of conception.

Lubricants, even ones labeled as non-spermicidal, can kill or immobilize sperm on contact. They have a different pH than natural vaginal secretions and can be toxic to sperm.

For this reason, lubricants are NOT recommended for anyone trying to conceive (this however, does NOT mean that you CAN’T get pregnant using lubricant and should not be used as your only form of contraception if you do not want to get pregnant!).

When a woman is fertile, her cervical mucus changes to make it easier for the sperm to swim to the egg. The quantity of fluid increases, it becomes egg white-like in consistency, and the pH increases.

Sometimes this does not happen and vaginal dryness can result. Stress and anxiety, certain fertility medications, hormonal imbalances and age are all factors that contribute to vaginal dryness.

The solution?

First it is important to understand WHY you are experiencing vaginal dryness. Lubricants are only a temporary solution.

If it is a hormonal issue, correcting that imbalance will help your body to naturally produce healthy cervical mucus. Taking measures to control stress and anxiety can also help.

If you are taking fertility medications or have age-related vaginal dryness, sometimes using a lubricant will be necessary.

Do not use saliva or water as an alternative, they too can be damaging to sperm. Instead, a specially formulated lubricant for women trying to conceive, such as Pre-Seed, should be used.

Check List for Vaginal Dryness

  • Drink more water. Dehydration is the most common cause of vaginal dryness. At Conceive Health Clinic we use Body Impedance Analysis machines to determine total body water content.
  • Get your hormones tested. Use either blood or saliva. These are among the most commonly run tests in my practice.
  • Get a physical to rule out underlying causes (such as Sjogren’s disease or nutrient deficiencies).
  • Reduce stress and anxiety. Seek help if you need.
  • If it persists despite ruling out the above, try Pre-Seed.
Pre-Seed is a healthy lubricant alternative for couples trying to conceive. Click here to purchase now.

Pre-Seed is a healthy lubricant alternative for couples trying to conceive. Click here to purchase now.

You know the ones I’m talking about.

All the things not healthy during pregnancy, are also not good for fertility — Smoking, alcohol, caffeine, certain drugs, artificial sweeteners, poor diet, and the list goes on.

Here are some reasons why:

Smoking: Smoking during pregnancy not only harms your baby, but also your baby’s babies down the road. Male smokers typically have sperm counts 15% lower and more abnormal sperm than non-smokers.

Young children of parents who smoke have a level of nicotine in their blood that is equal to them smoking 60-100 cigarettes per year!

Caffeine: Regular consumption of caffeinated beverages can significantly reduce fertility in both men and women.

For women, drinking just one cup of coffee per day cuts the chances of conception by half. Caffeine use is related to an increased risk of endometriosis, chromosomal abnormalities and miscarriage.

For men, problems with sperm count, motility and abnormalities are dose dependent on the amount of caffeine consumed.

Alcohol: Consumption of alcohol at any time in a cycle can decrease the chance of conception during that cycle by up to 50%, and the effects can be seen for up to 3 cycles. Alcohol is toxic to egg, sperm and fetus, and is a major cause of fetal malformation and birth defects.

Marijuana – Use during pregnancy is 4 times more dangerous that cigarette smoking. THC concentrates in the ovaries and testes decrease fertility in both sexes, as well as increases risk of miscarriage, low birth weight, chromosomal abnormalities, preterm birth and the health of the baby (for example, children are 10 times more likely to develop leukemia than other children).

Click those nasty habits and increase your success of conception. Photo credit:

Kick those nasty habits and increase your success of conception. Photo credit:

For your patients best chance of successful pregnancy, it’s recommended they kick bad habits at least 4 months prior to getting pregnant.

Eating a well balanced (organic when possible) diet rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins, doing moderate exercise and getting enough sleep can help your body regain its health and optimize fertility.

About the Author
Dr. Jennifer Fitzgerald ND

Dr. Fitzgerald is a Naturopathic Doctor and co-founder of Conceive Health Clinic. Her clinical focus is fertility and reproductive endocrinology, including preconception healthcare, female and male infertility, IVF support, recurrent pregnancy loss, endometriosis and PCOS. Dr. Fitzgerald uses an integrative approach to treatment with an emphasis on functional medicine, clinical nutrition, botanical medicine and acupuncture. Conceive Health Clinic is located within the Toronto Center for Advanced Reproductive Technology (TCART Fertility Partners) at 150 Bloor St West, Toronto, Ontario. Contact her at or 416-972-0110.