Can Lube Affect Sperm Health Or Fertility
Many couples use personal lubricant to improve the experience of having sex while trying to conceivesince theyre likely having sex more frequently and on a schedule, to boot. Researchshows that 26% of couples often or always use lube when theyre trying to get pregnant.
But should you use lubricant while trying to get pregnant or get your partner pregnant? Your average drugstore lube, like KY Jelly or Astroglide, may be having more of a negative effect on your chances of conception than youd expect. Heres the research around lube and male fertility, and our guidance to help you choose a lube that wont affect your sperm health.
Okay So How Do Different Lubes Affect Actual Real
Because of the different effects of lubes on sperm movement and survival, youd think that using certain lubes should be associated with better or worse outcomes in terms of getting pregnant. Oh, how we wish science would be that predictable.
In one study, 6,400+ women in North America and Denmark who were trying to conceive were asked if they used lube and whether their lube was water/oil/silicone-based or pH-balanced , and followed them for up to 12 months. There was no difference in peoples likelihood of getting pregnant based on their lube use . Women who used what the researchers defined as fertility-friendly lube didnt get pregnant more quickly or at higher rates than women who didnt use lube at all, nor did women who used purportedly sperm-unfriendly lube get pregnant at lower rates than any other group.
A second study of roughly 300 women came to similar conclusions, when comparing pregnancy rates in women who used any sort of lube during the fertile window to women who did not. Here, too, there was no evidence to suggest differences in pregnancy rates between women who did and didnt use lube.
Can Lubricant Help You Get Pregnant
Time to conception is determined by various factors including age, medical, and pregnancy history as well as lifestyle factors. In addition, more randomized controlled trials are needed to truly assess lubricants and pregnancy rates. With that in mind, there are lubricants with pH-altering properties that may negatively affect sperm, thus ultimately interfering with baby-making efforts. And while various market formulations exist such as sperm friendly and non spermicidal, fertility-friendly lubricant is the only FDA-cleared option when TTC.
As you can see, there are many factors to consider when it comes to lubes during pregnancy. One factor which is often overlookedbut not underappreciated during pregnancyis ease of use! As pregnancy progresses, lube application can become increasingly difficult, as can tying shoes, shaving, and painting toes! Id recommend considering a user-friendly lube that is applicator-free to reduce this common hassle.
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Is Lube Necessary When Trying To Conceive
Fertility lubricants don’t promise to make conception easier, says Dr. Rizk. But they aren’t harmful to sperm or eggs, so they also don’t interfere with conception. Each couple can decide for themselves whether to use a sperm-friendly lubricant.
Developed by doctors and used by fertility clinics, Pre-Seed personal lubricant helps preserves sperm quality by mimicking the bodies natural fluids. Isotonic, pH balanced, and both glycerin- and scent-free.
Does Your Lube Harm Sperm
When choosing a lubricant normally, you only need to follow a few specific requirements: no parabens and no added fragrances. But the stakes are higher when trying to conceive, says Dr. Rizk, and using the wrong lubricant can jeopardize the success of conception. Lubes that aren’t specifically geared for fertility may “contain ingredients and/or have a pH that is harmful to sperm,” he adds.
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How Does Lube Affect Sperm
Extensive lab studies have concluded that most commercially available lubesas well as some commonly used oils and even salivahave a negative impact on sperm motility, or how sperm move. Motility is important because a sperms movement is what propels it through the female reproductive system. If your sperm isnt moving, it wont be able to reach your partners egg for fertilization.
Even some lubes that are marketed as sperm-friendly or fertility friendly have been shown to affect sperm motility. Some lubes have also been shown to affect sperm vitality and genetic health.
Heres an overview of the research on how common lubricants affect fertility.
Ky Jelly Side Effects
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of a severe allergic reaction when using KY Jelly: hives difficulty breathing swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Stop using KY Jelly and rinse the affected area with water if you develop severe burning, stinging, redness, or irritation where the product was applied. Call your doctor if the irritation persists.
Stop using KY jelly if you develop vaginal thrush after using the product. For some women, the glycerol contained in KY jelly can trigger such infections. Seek treatment for the vaginal thrush from a pharmacist or doctor and talk to them about alternative lubricants. KY Jelly is odorless, colorless, and alcohol-free.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
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Can Fertility Lubricant Help Me Get Pregnant
If youre trying to get pregnant, you might have considered using some new products in the bedroom. Rather than reaching for the condoms, you might be trying out stimulating sex toys or a new lubricant to get you in the mood and heighten your pleasure.
If youre a couple trying to conceive, fertility lubricant can be useful. Read on to find out why.
Why Some Personal Lubricants Are Not Fertility Friendly
Rachel Gurevich is a fertility advocate, author, and recipient of The Hope Award for Achievement, from Resolve: The National Infertility Association. She is a professional member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and has been writing about womens health since 2001. Rachel uses her own experiences with infertility to write compassionate, practical, and supportive articles.
Heather Mercer is native to Northwest Ohio and graduated from Loma Linda University with two doctorate degrees . She is currently a professor at Owens Community College, as well as a fact-checker for Verywell Health. She has gained experience in a variety of settings, ranging from corporate wellness and preventive medicine, to mental health, chronic disease, and end-of-life care.
Can lubricants like KY Jelly kill sperm? Sort of. They certainly can’t be considered sperm-friendly. While you can’t use them to prevent pregnancy , they are not a good choice when you’re trying to get pregnant.
The effect lubricants may have on fertility is especially relevant to couples trying to conceive. Difficulty with vaginal dryness is twice as common in trying-to-conceive couples than in the general population. Also, problems with vaginal dryness tend to increase the longer a couple is seeking to get pregnant.
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How Lubricants Impact Sperm
Several studies have looked at the effect various lubricants have on sperm, at least in vitro. Researchers have investigated:
- How well the sperm swim after exposure to the lubricant
- Whether or not DNA damage occurred
- Whether sperm were still alive
One study compared sperm motility after exposure to Pre-Seed , Astroglide , KY Warming, KY Sensitive, KY Tingling, baby oil, canola oil, sesame oil, and mustard oil. We know that sperm make the transition from the semen and into cervical mucus about 1.5 minutes after intercourse.
The majority of healthy sperm will make it into the cervical mucus within 15 to 20 minutes.
Therefore, researchers examined what percentage of sperm were moving after 0 minutes, 5 minutes, 30 minutes, and 60 minutes of exposure to a 10% solution of the various lubricants. This is what they found:
- Pre-Seed was the least harmful to sperm, with only a small decrease in sperm movement.
- KY lubricants were the most harmful to sperm movement, with KY Tingling reducing sperm movement to almost nothing after 60 minutes.
- Astroglide was also significantly harmful to sperm movement. After 60 minutes, under 60% were moving.
- Of the oils, mustard oil was the best for sperm motility. In fact, there was no decrease in sperm motility at all.
- Baby oil was more sperm-friendly than Astroglide, but not as sperm-friendly as Pre-Seed.
- Sesame oil was the worst of the oils, with results similar to Astroglide, but still better than KY.
The Lube Ingredients And Characteristics To Look Out For
Even though all fertility-friendly lubes are unified in their lack of impact to sperm, eggs, and fertilization, there isnt any one magic ingredient that makes a lube fertility-friendly, and there is a good bit of variability in ingredients and characteristics of lubes in this category.
Below, well detail the ingredients and characteristics to look for and what you might want to avoid some of which are important for sperm health and survival, and some important for general vaginal health.
1.pH level around 7: Though normal vaginal pH is in the 4.0-4.5 range, this changes slightly across the menstrual cycle and during sexual arousal. Vaginal pH during sexual arousal, semen, and cervical mucus around ovulation have pH levels close to 7.0. These are good things for lube users who are trying to get pregnant because sperm are happiest when pH is around 7.0 lower pHs are associated with a reduction in sperm survival.
Our rec here? Stick to lubes that explicitly state they have a pH around 7.
2. Iso-osmotic: Osmolality refers to the number of particles per unit of water. The vagina has a natural osmolality, and if this differs too much from the lube youre using, it may lead to vaginal cell death or a greater risk of vaginal infections. Look for products that are iso-osmotic . For context, normal vaginal osmolality is in the 270 mOsm/Kg range, and several widely used vaginal lubricants have osmolality values 4 to 30 times as high.
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What Is The Most Important Information I Should Know About K
You should not use a topical emollient if you are allergic to it. Topical emollients will not treat or prevent a skin infection.
Ask a doctor or pharmacist if it is safe for you to use this medicine if you have:
- deep wounds or open sores
- swelling, warmth, redness, oozing, or bleeding
- large areas of skin irritation
- any type of allergy or
- if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
Trying To Get Pregnant Select A Lubricant That Is Most Helpful For Sperm
Lubrication can be an easy way to increase comfort during intercourse. However, many couples who are trying to conceive dont realize that lubricants can adversely affect sperm.
Lubrication reduces the ability for sperm to move spontaneously and actively. This is important, because many sperm need to reach the egg in order to fertilize it. Its a common misconception that it only takes one sperm. It actually takes multiple sperm working together on the surface of the egg in order for just one to get in and fertilize.
Most lubricants, including saliva, can slow sperm movement. So, what if you use lubricants and are trying to get pregnant and need sperm motility? Search for a lubricant that is hydroxyethlcellulose-based. These lubricants dont decrease sperm motility and are the most like natural vaginal mucus.
If you have questions about which lubricant is right for you, ask a preconception counselor or fertility expert.
Learn more about fertility:
- It seems like there is endless advice on what to do when youre trying to get pregnant, but what advice is actually true? Read about common fertility myths.
- Search for “ovulation kit” or “ovulation app” online, and youll quickly see that finding the right tool can be a little overwhelming. Read about using ovulation kits to predict fertility.
- To become pregnant, the complex processes of ovulation and fertilization need to work just right. Read some tips to improve fertility.
Topics in this Post
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Will I Need To Use Lube During Sex When Im Pregnant
Maybe. For example, one 2014 study found that about 4.5 percent of pregnant people use lubricant during pregnancy. It all depends on how the surge of pregnancy hormones affects your body.
Most probably wont need a lot of lubrication during pregnancy, says Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, an OB-GYN at Yale University. Pregnancy is a high estrogen state, and that can lead to increased vaginal discharge, especially as your pregnancy increases.
Changes to your cervix during pregnancy can also cause more discharge. This is part of the way your body protects your uterus and growing baby for 9 months.
However, everyones different. And for some, the fluctuating hormones specifically high progesterone can lead to vaginal dryness and irritation during sex, which isnt comfortable. And thats why you might want to get some lube.
Risks Of Using Baby Oil As A Lubricant
Can you use baby oil as lube? The short answer is no. While baby oil is safe to use on the skin as a moisturizer, it shouldnât be used as a sexual lubricant.
Baby oil and other mineral oil products used as lubes can cause condom problems and skin irritation.
It weakens condoms. Baby oil can weaken male and female condoms. Contact with mineral oil for as little as 60 seconds lowers condom strength by 90%. The mineral oil breaks down latex and can cause the condom to break. Broken condoms cause a greater risk of unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections .
It weakens diaphragms. A diaphragm is a silicone or latex cup inserted into the vagina. It’s a barrier method to protect against pregnancy and has to be used with a spermicide. Diaphragms do not protect from sexually transmitted infections. They are made of latex and silicone, which means that baby oil, mineral oil, and other oil-based products can damage them and stop them from working.
It irritates the vulva. The vulva is the outside part of the female genitals. This area is sensitive to chemicals and moisture. Baby oil or other mineral oil products can irritate the vulva and cause skin problems. Symptoms include:
It’s hard to wash off. Baby oil doesnât wash off the skin very easily. It can irritate the vulva, and if you scrub your skin, you can make skin irritations worse.
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What Kind Of Lubricants Should I Avoid
While youre pregnant, youll want to avoid oily lubes because they can alter the pH balance in your vagina and increase your chances of infection. Instead, choose a water-based lubricant.
In addition, youll want to stay clear of certain ingredients which can be irritating or harmful to the tissues of your vagina even when theyre in water-based lubes.
In general, here are some of the things to avoid:
Annnnnd Just For Fun: When In Rome Dont Lube As The Romans Did
We dug up some pretty interesting facts while researching lube. The documented history of lube use goes waaaay back to around 350 BCE, where the Greeks allude to using olive oil as a contraceptive , perhaps first in a book written by the Greek philosopher Aristotle. More explicit mentions of olive oil being used during sexual activity as a lubricant appear slightly later on in Roman novels from the 1st century, wherein authors describe it being used as a lubricant for leather dildos .
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Will Using Lubricant While Trying To Conceive Affect My Chances Of Getting Pregnant
So, laboratory studies demonstrate that lube can significantly impair sperm. But what does that mean for real-life use?
Interestingly, it seems that lube use doesnt have much of an effect on chances of natural conception. A few different studies have looked at lubricant use among women who are trying to get pregnant. In one, nearly 300 participants kept a record of their menstrual cycles, intercourse frequency, and use of lube. Approximately 43% of women reported that they occasionally or frequently used lube while trying to conceive. Participants who used lubeeven regularlywere no less likely to become pregnant than those who never used lube.
Another study looked specifically at time to pregnancy , and how it correlated with lube use. Over 6,000 women categorized as pregnancy planners completed questionnaires about their use of personal lubricants while trying to conceive. Researchers found that fertility rates were not decreased for lube users, and that use of lubricants did not seem to impact time to pregnancy.
How do we explain this difference between lab studies and real-life statistics? Its possible that, in real-life use, sperm are exposed to lower concentrations of lube, or shorter exposure times, than in the above-mentioned laboratory studies. Its also possible that most male partners have semen parameters that are robust enough to withstand the detrimental impact of lube and still result in a pregnancy.
What Are The Side Effects Of K
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives difficult breathing swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Stop using the topical emollient and call your doctor if you have severe burning, stinging, redness, or irritation where the product was applied.
Less serious side effects are more likely, and you may have none at all.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
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Lets Dive Into The Science Heres What Lab Studies Say About How Different Types Of Lube Impact Sperm Health
Manufacturers of different lubes as well as scientists in academic settings have been hard at work conducting experiments to determine exactly how different lubes on the market might impact sperm. Research has largely focused on their effects on sperm because lube likely doesnt make it all the way to the egg, and testing hasnt found significant effects of different types on eggs and embryos.
There are many studies of the effects of different lubes on sperm, though there is no single published study that head-to-head compares the five fertility-friendly lubes on the market right now .
Given that caveat, well highlight one of our favorite studies on the effects of lube on sperm, conducted by a group of Australian researchers in 2014. They used sperm samples from 10 different people , tested eleven different commonly used lubes , and measured multiple important aspects of sperm function. Specifically, they looked at how different lubes affected:
- Sperm motility . While sperm motility was considered good for 8 out of the 11 of the lubes examined, it was highest in a lube that has been FDA-approved as fertility-friendly.
- Sperm vitality . The two lubes with the highest vitality measures were also FDA-approved as fertility-friendly, whereas the vitality rates in the other lubes ranged from 27% to 65%.
- DNA fragmentation . All lubes had similar effects on rates of DNA damage.