Fertility lube can help create the right environment for a pregnancy to happen. Learn about what it is and how it helps the sperm and the egg.
Trying to conceive? A lot of couples turn to personal lube for comfort and pleasure during sex.
Unfortunately, many types of lube affect how sperm travel to meet the egg for fertilization.
Fertility Lube is lubricant that's been tested to ensure it has similar pH level and viscosity as semen and cervical fluid.
It's important to make sure the lubricant is FDA-approved. The top recommended options include Pre-Seed fertility lubricant and Conceive Plus fertility lubricant.
Fertility lube does not increase the chances of pregnancy. It only ensures that the environment the sperm and egg are in is not impeded by the lube itself.
Fertility lube, by contrast, is a personal lubricant that has been cleared by the FDA to be sperm-safe and a proven option for couples trying to conceive.
What is fertility-safe lube? What is the best lube for fertility? Below is a closer look.
Fertility lube is a type of sexual lubricant that’s been tested to ensure it has a similar viscosity and pH level as cervical fluid and semen.
In short, lube for conception is designed to deter interference with the sperm and egg during sex.
They’re screened at the time of production and throughout the lubricants shelf life for endotoxins.
These toxins are produced by bacteria that can be harmful to eggs and sperm at low levels.
While using lube is natural for TTC couples, not all lubes are ideal when trying to get pregnant. Certain types of lubes that should be avoided include:
The Food and Drug Administration recently created a product classification for personal lubricants that are compatible with gametes (sperm and eggs), fertilization, and embryos in 2017.
This classification set a standard for which personal lubricants could actually be advertised as "fertility-safe lube."
These lubricants show up under a lot of different names, such as TTC lube, pregnancy lube, and fertility-friendly lube.
To date, less than a dozen products have obtained the FDA's approval for labeling as lube safe for conception.
The general process from sperm entry to fertilization looks something like what follows:
With this in mind, sperm must be highly mobile in order to reach the egg.
The bulk of available personal lubricants affects sperm motility (movement). This can get in the way of fertilization.
Different types of lube may also contain ingredients that are known to cause direct damage to sperm.
For example, some silicone-based and water-based lubes have been shown to leave most sperm in samples not moving after 30 minutes.
These same lubes also caused damage in some cases that would make sperm cells non-viable.
Researchers point out that these damages are likely caused by the pH levels of certain products, as well as osmolality (the fluid-to-particle ratio).
Both of these are regulated naturally by the body. However, when non-biologic fluids are introduced with certain types of lube, both pH levels and osmolality can be affected.
For reference, sperm fares best in mucus that has a pH level between 7.2 and 8.5. Osmolality should be between 270 and 360 milliosmoles per kilogram (mOsm/kg) of water.
Outside these ranges, the sperm can both sustain damage and have no motility.
Remember that it’s important to look for specific products that the FDA has cleared as a lube that doesn’t affect fertility.
When it comes to the best fertility lube, there are actually several options. However, certain brands tend to get recommended or referenced more than others.
Below is a look at the top three conception lube choices.
Pre-Seed Fertility Lubricant developed by First Response is often touted as the best lube for conception.
Pre-Seed was developed by health professionals and has been clinically tested to ensure it supports sperm motility and survival.
According to the manufacturer, Pre-Seed fertility lube is designed to create an environment that has a similar pH level to the natural vaginal environment.
In clinical studies published in 2014, Pre-Seed conception lube was found to have no negative effect on sperm.
In comparative studies published in 2014, Pre-Seed fertility-friendly lube had the least measurable negative effects on sperm compared to eight other fertility lubes.
Over 92 percent of sperm in the Pre-Seed analysis retained their vitality for 30 minutes.
However, Conceive Plus held a close second even though Pre-Seed was shown to be the best lube for fertility support.
It should be noted, however, that Pre-Seed does contain parabens which may affect fertility on some level. Further research is needed to make definitive claims.
Conceive Plus Fertility Lubricant is a water-based lube formulated by Harvard medical professionals to support fertility naturally.
Conceive Plus was one of the first products to gain clearance from the FDA for being a good lube for conception.
This lube creates the ideal pH and supports the proper osmolality to create the ideal environment for sperm motility and survival.
However, this fertility lube takes things a step further by adding calcium and magnesium ions to the formula.
These minerals are vital for the support of sperm health when trying to conceive.
In the aforementioned comparative study, Conceive Plus was the best fertility lube in terms of supporting sperm motility.
Around 86 percent of sperm retained their natural motility. Unfortunately, Conceive Plus is not free of parabens.
BabyDance Fertility Lubricant was brought to market in 2017 after gaining FDA approval.
Guaranteed to be friendly to sperm, the formula is said to be designed to mimic the natural cervical fluids produced by the body in terms of pH levels and isotonic makeup.
The lube has a pH level of around seven. The consistency is said to be almost the exact consistency of naturally created fluids.
As an added note, BabyDance is a paraben-free fertility lube. It appears to be more rigorously tested than other fertility lubes.
The manufacturer states that batches are tested during production and otherwise to make sure no bacteria or toxins are present that could affect sperm quality.
In formal studies, BabyDance was shown to be "harmless" to sperm cells.
The product was not shown to affect sperm viability or motility. It also did not disrupt the natural pH levels.
Fertility lube doesn't change anything about the probability of pregnancy.
Instead, the lube helps ensure that the environment that the sperm and egg are in is not impeded by the lube itself.
Nevertheless, some medical providers claim that vaginal dryness due to lacking cervical mucus may affect how long it takes to get pregnant.
While it is easy to allude that using fertility lube may enhance the chances of getting pregnant because it helps with vaginal dryness, there is no evidence to support these claims.
In fact, some studies have found that women who relied on fertility-friendly lube didn't achieve pregnancy any easier or faster than those who used standard lube or no lube at all.
Therefore, a fertility lube should be used as an extra measure to ensure everything is being done to support the process.
Personal lubricants should never be treated as a means of contraception. However, many types of lube are indeed toxic to sperm, as noted above.
Even though there are not a wealth of studies available on all types of lube, some products have been shown to reduce sperm motility by as much as 49 percent.
Likewise, several lubes (including products like K-Y Jelly and FemGlide) affect sperm structure which can lead to sperm cell death.
By contrast, lube safe for conception does not affect either sperm motility or cellular structure.
Saliva may not kill sperm, and it should never be assumed that saliva would have contraceptive actions.
However, saliva has been shown to slow sperm progression and motility.
In a study published in Fertility and Sterility, researchers examined the effect of saliva on sperm from healthy men.
Samples were incubated with a large amount of saliva. It was determined that 12 percent of the sperm population portrayed a "shaking movement."
This action does indicate that saliva could be damaging to the sperm. The amount of damage it causes depends on its pH level.
The pH level of saliva collected from women can vary depending on the point in the menstrual cycle when the sample is collected.
Saliva pH levels can also be influenced by diet, the immune system, smoking, and other factors that are microbiological in nature.
Higher pH levels in saliva may be more likely to affect sperm motility.
Even though fertility lube is not designed to make conception more likely, it can be useful while trying to conceive.
A few reasons to use fertility lube include:
Fertility lube is also a better option to use in place of saliva.
While saliva can create some level of lubrication, saliva may also have pH levels that affect sperm or the fertilization process negatively.
Some products claim to be safe for fertility or labeled when they’ve not gone through the proper testing or gained FDA approval.
When shopping for the best lube for conception, give the full ingredient list and label a good look.
Be sure to look at several important attributes, including:
TTC couples commonly need lube during sex because natural lubrication can be lacking.
However, not every type of personal lube is good to use. Many actually cause problems with sperm motility and vitality.
The best lube for pregnancy is FDA-approved. It’s gone through the proper testing to ensure it does not negatively affect the egg-fertilization process.
These products support the proper pH levels and osmolality that are conducive to sperm and egg health and function.
Be sure to carefully examine any lube you are considering using when you and your partner are trying to conceive.
Dr. Jed Kaminetsky M.D. is an American Board Certified Urologist and earned his Medical Degree at New York University. In his tenure he became a member of the American Urological Association and the American College of Surgeons. Dr. Kaminetsky pioneered the minimally invasive Rezum BPH treatment and is an expert in male and female dysfunction.
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