Are you trying to get conceive and anxious that your lubricant of choice may be harming your chances? Short answer: You CAN use lube. But… You may need to switch up what you’re using. Let’s go over some key fertility-impacting factors to be aware of.
Why We Use Lube
During sexual arousal, a woman’s vagina self-lubricates, making it wetter and ready for sex. This is a natural physiologic function. The glands in the cervix and vaginal wall create necessary lubrication which makes sex more comfortable and enjoyable. Who doesn’t want that?
However, sometimes women experience vaginal dryness. This means the vagina does not lubricate enough, which can lead to chafing, burning, irritation, or other discomforts. This happens for a variety of reasons, including stress (hello?! – pandemic, can’t get pregnant, and beyond). But it can also be due to hormonal changes or medications. Sometimes, we simply prefer more lubrication than our bodies provide.
Types of Lube
A lubricant is a liquid or gel that women and their partners can apply prior to or during sex. The additional wetness can enhance arousal, boost pleasure, but most importantly reduce friction during penetration. Lubricants can be used by everyone, whether it’s for your partner or your favorite sex toy.
Most lube fits into one of four categories: oil-based, water-based, silicone-based, or a hybrid containing more than one of those. Aside from their effect on fertility, each type has pros and cons. For example, oil-based lubricants can degrade condoms and have a higher chance of irritating the vagina. Silicon-based lubes can damage silicone sex toys.
Lube When TTC
Choosing a lubricant is a highly personal decision, but there are special considerations everyone trying to conceive should take. The last thing you want is a product that could be undermining your success.
Some lubricants can decrease sperm motility or survival by 60-100%. They may contain harmful substances that are best avoided when trying to get pregnant (these also tend to be more irritating). Those to avoid include glycerine, petroleum, spermicide (which is often listed as nonoxynol-9), and antibacterial ingredients like chlorhexidine gluconate.
Steer clear of parabens which belong to a class of compounds called endocrine-disrupting chemicals, or EDC’s. EDC’s can mimic or interfere with the body’s hormones and have been shown to have negative effects on eggs and sperm.
Though most lubricants are free of side effects, it is possible to have an allergic reaction to something in the lubricant itself. See a doctor if you develop difficulty breathing, a rash, itching, or swelling (particularly of the tongue, throat, or face) after using.
So, what type of lubricant should you look for when you’re trying to get pregnant?
When ovulating, a woman’s body changes to a more alkaline pH (less acidic) to support sperm survival. There are certain lubricants available designed to mimic the natural chemical environment of the vagina during your most fertile time of the month - these are what you want!
Rather than the standard mainstream brands, look for lubricants that are “fertility friendly” and FDA approved. This means the lubricant has been clinically proven to be compatible with sperm, egg, and embryo; as well as approved for use in fertility testing and treatment.
Keep in mind that new brands may appear and others may discontinue, so do your research to ensure you avoid substances that can be toxic to the cells required to create a baby: Sperm and Eggs. Most TTC-friendly lubricants can be purchased at your local food or drug store, or online if you prefer more privacy.
Though there isn’t really a right or wrong way, I’ll leave you with a few tips when using lubricants:
Warm it up in your hands before applying.
Lay down on a towel to prevent staining or wet spots. You’ll thank me later – it’s much easier to wash a towel than strip the bed and remake it, especially if you’re into cuddling right after.
Include it during foreplay to help boost arousal – there’s no need to wait for the main event.
And be liberal when applying, too much is better than not enough! You can also re-apply as needed.
Here’s to more pleasurable sex for everyone with one less thing to worry about, and one more thing you can control in your fertility journey.
Embrace Fertility offers integrative fertility support to help you naturally boost your fertility wellness. Click here to learn more.