Sperm-Friendly Lubricants: What TTC Couples Need to Know
Why Couples Use Lube When TTC
Lubricants make sex more comfortable and enjoyable, and they may be especially necessary when trying to conceive. That’s because baby-making sex tends to be less romantic, less spontaneous, and more of a chore, according to Dr. Peter Rizk, Ob-Gyn and fertility expert for Fairhaven Health. “Complicating matters further, some fertility medications cause vaginal dryness, making it almost a necessity for women who are on fertility meds to use a lubricant during sex,” he adds.
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.
The Right Type of TTC Lube
When trying to conceive, always look for a lubricant designed specifically to be fertility-friendly. These can “provide a protective environment for sperm as it makes its way through the female reproductive tract,” says Dr. Rizk. “These lubricants also mimic the consistency and viscosity of cervical mucus, making it a great match for sperm.”
Sperm-Friendly Lube Requirements
Lubricants marketed as “sperm-friendly” or “fertility-friendly” must be cleared by the FDA before being sold. They must also be water-based and tested to ensure they fit the following requirements, according to Dr. Rizk:
- They must be pH neutral (pH 7) and isosmotic/isotonic (e.g. 300 mOsmo/kg) with fertile cervical mucus and semen “to prevent shock and damage to sperm and eggs,” he says.
- They can’t interfere with human sperm motility, survival, or integrity, as well as embryo development.
- They must have the correct viscosity to allow sperm to swim into and through the lubricant.
- They’re safe to use for in vitro fertilization (IVF) and other fertility methods.
- They have low levels of endotoxins at all times. These are “toxins produced by bacteria that can harm sperm and egg function even at relatively low levels,” says Dr. Rizk.
Things to Avoid
Always read the ingredients of lubricants before buying. Note that many "fertility lubricants" contain parabens, which have been linked to endocrine disruption. Dr. Rizk recommends avoiding the following:
- Lubricants containing glycerol and/or parabens
- Lubricants with a pH less than 7. “The box should either list the pH value or state that the product is pH matched to cervical mucus,” he says.
- Lubricants with an osmolality greater than 400 mOsm/kg
- “Organic” or “natural” lubricants not cleared by the FDA
Finally, don’t make the mistake of confusing a non-spermicidal lubricant with a fertility-friendly lubricant.
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.
Can I Use Oil as Lube?
You may have heard that oils can double as lube, but don’t follow this advice. “Household oils might contain toxic peroxides and inflammatory chemicals due to exposure to light and storage at room temperature,” says Dr. Rizk. Coconut oil can temporarily relieve vaginal dryness and discomfort, but “it has to be cleaned out by the vagina and can interfere with your natural vaginal self-cleaning, so it’s been associated with an increased risk for vaginal infections.”
The Best Sperm-Friendly Lubricant
Dr. Rizk recommends only one lubricant for couples trying to conceive: BabyDance Fertility Lubricant. “BabyDance is the only sperm-friendly fertility lubricant made without parabens and cleared by the FDA,” he says. Through clinical trials, it’s been shown not to interfere with sperm parameters, cervical mucus penetration, or embryo development. The pH also matches that of fertile cervical mucus and semen.