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Is lube safe for trying to conceive?

Is lube safe for trying to conceive?

Dr. Mare Mbaye | June 5, 2020 | Getting Pregnant
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Trying to conceive (TTC) can be a trying process both mentally and physically. An issue that comes up frequently with couples that are TTC is vaginal dryness. In fact, a survey of 900 TTC couples showed that vaginal dryness was two times higher in these couples than in the general population (1). The survey also revealed that sexual intimacy was negatively impacted because of this.

Most couple’s natural response to this is to reach for some sort of lubricant. We know that a good portion of TTC couples (at least 25% according to one study) do in fact use lubricant (1). But if you are TTC, it may be worth taking a closer look at what you use.

Now, if you’ve ever walked through your local drugstore or pharmacy, it’s hard to miss the variety of lubricants that are available for purchase. With so many options, it can be confusing to know which are safe when TTC. How do you know which lubricants are not spermicidal (i.e., won’t harm or kill sperm)? How do you know which lubricants won’t hurt your chances of getting pregnant? Luckily, these questions are straight-forward to answer. 

While using most basic lubricants won't necessarily prevent you from getting pregnant, they can certainly affect your chances for success (2). When ovulating, vaginal and cervical pH becomes more basic in order to support sperm function. Standard lubricants have a slightly more acidic pH, which can change your natural pH and potentially make it more difficult for sperm to function well. Enter: fertility-friendly lubricant. 

What is fertility lubricant?

Fertility-friendly lubricants are a special class of lubricants that are cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use when trying to conceive. They undergo additional tests (biocompatibility testing) to demonstrate that they do not harm sperm, eggs, or embryos. 

A fertility-friendly lubricant will generally have a special formula. Its pH, osmolality, and viscosity are “balanced” for sperm health and differ from conventional lubricants. Even if a lubricant does not contain spermicide, it can harm sperm by not being properly formulated for these factors. 


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Make sure the lubricant is FDA cleared to be fertility friendly

Any personal lubricant claiming to be sperm-friendly lubricant must be regulated and cleared by the FDA as a class 2 medical device. This means the lube has been extensively tested to be compatible with sperm, oocytes (eggs), and embryos (eggs that have been fertilized) and can be used by couples trying to conceive. Furthermore, lubricants cleared by the FDA are required to test each batch to ensure quality and safety.

Look for a lubricant that is paraben free

Parabens are an ingredient used as an antimicrobial preservative agent in some products, including lubricants. They essentially act as a preservative to prolong the shelf life. However, parabens are endocrine disruptors—chemicals that can interfere with our endocrine system. When inside the body, parabens can mimic estrogen (3). The European Union has banned parabens in cosmetic and beauty products, and for good reason: Preliminary evidence from a study conducted at Harvard University linked high paraben build up in the body with reduced fertility (4). When TTC, stay paraben-free.

Do’s and Don’ts

Last but not least, here are some basic do’s and don’ts to help guide your general lubricant selection:

  • Don’t buy lubricants with a low pH (meaning they’re acidic)
  • Don’t use lubricants containing small penetrating chemicals (e.g., glycerol) or parabens
  • Do make sure that a lubricant labeled “non-spermicidal.” Only FDA-cleared lubricants are required to undergo testing that proves the product won’t harm sperm or eggs.
  • Don’t use household oils, since household oils often contain toxic peroxides and inflammatory chemicals that develop over time due to exposure to light, room temperature, and the purity of the oil (5).

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