Many of us know lube to be the gel-like substance you can buy over the counter to help alleviate discomfort and even enhance pleasure during sex. And that’s just what it’s designed for—to increase lubrication, reduce vaginal dryness, and make sex more enjoyably for both partners (or by yourself if you're engaging is solo play!).
The trouble with lube, however, is that the majority of over-the-counter brands are typically toxic to sperm. In fact, research—including one study published in the journal PLoS One back in 2019—has shown that most lubes contain chemicals that can significantly reduce sperm motility, or the ability of sperm to move in the way they need to in order to successfully reach and fertilize an egg.
- Allison K. Rodgers, MD, Allison K. Rodgers, MD, is a reproductive endocrinologist, fertility specialist, and director of education at Fertility Centers of Illinois.
- Mark Trolice, MD, Mark Trolice, MD, is a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist based in Winter Park, Florida.
- Rachel Corradetti-Sargeant, ND, Rachel Corradetti-Sargeant, ND, is a fertility-focused naturopathic doctor, using naturopathic medicine to help her clients conceive.
These same ingredients can also impact hormone balance, warns fertility-focused naturopathic doctor Rachel Corradetti-Sargeant, ND. These ingredients can also change the vagina's pH balance, which "can disrupt the flora found within the vagina, making it more common to have yeast infections, which can pass back and forth between partners and impact implantation,” she says.
While most fertility doctors, like Mark Trolice, MD, certainly recommend a lubricant for any couple experiencing painful intercourse (also known as dyspareunia), or folks who simply prefer to incorporate lube in their routine because they like how it feels, they do warn that some over-the-counter products have the potential to hinder your ability to conceive.
What to look for in a lube when trying to conceive
If you're trying to conceive, it’s smart to opt for a lube that won’t negatively affect your efforts to get pregnant. The first ingredient to avoid is parabens, or endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in many common lubricants, even fertility-safe options.
“Parabens are endocrine-disrupting chemicals that can impact hormone function and worsen hormonal disorders,” says Dr. Corradetti. She also warns against lubricants with marketing claims such as “warming,” “tingling” or “sensitivity,” as these have also been shown to contain ingredients that negatively impact the motility of sperm.
Allison Rodgers, MD, reproductive endocrinologist at Fertility Centers of Illinois, recommends seeking out a lube that has the “fertility-friendly” seal, which can identify lubrication with a neutral PH and osmolality that is less toxic to sperm.
The best lubes to use if you’re trying to conceive
Of all lubes on the market, this is probably the best known brand for couples trying to conceive. It was invented by a scientist who dedicated her life’s work to understanding the physiology of sperm. What’s more: One study published in the Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics, which analyzed eight different lubes and their impacts on conception, found that Pre-Seed® to have the highest success rate.
This lube meets the FDA “fertility-friendly” designation, notes Natalie Stentz, M.D., double board certified OB/GYN and fertility specialist—and Dr. Corradetti agrees that it’s one of the safest from the perspective of vitality of the sperm. It was developed by Harvard fertility pros with the goal of helping couples get pregnant without the discomfort. It’s pH balanced to mimic cervical mucus, which helps the sperm reach the egg.
This is Dr. Corradetti’s top recommendation for lube for her fertility patients. “It is safe for sperm, friendly to vaginas and also contains clean ingredients—no parabens, petrochemicals or glycerin,” she says. It also helps maintain an optimal pH level in the vagina that won’t negatively impact sperm. It’s both water-based and gynecologist-tested.
This fertility supplement brand has risen the ranks of TTC products, which prioritize high-quality ingredients that don’t pose harm to either partner during the journey to conception. It’s FDA-cleared and helps mimic the natural texture of cervical mucus. It’s also paraben-free and comes in single packages so that it’s a clean use each time.
Here’s a water-based lube that is pH-balanced for optimal sperm and vaginal health that won’t negatively affect your trying-to-conceive efforts. It’s made with natural ingredients—no petrochemicals, glycerin, synthetic colorants or fragrances—and is FDA cleared for reproductive care.
#LubeLife is known for its highly rated and reviewed original formula, but it also offers a water-based TTC lubricant that’s fertility-friendly. Aside from being safe for sperm, the formula is totally vegan and free of parabens, glycerin, silicone, gluten, and hormones. It’s also toy-safe, and cleans up easily. Folks like this lube most for its consistency, which feels really natural.
Want to be the first to hear about the latest (and greatest) SHOP product drops, custom collections, discounts, and more? Sign up to have the intel delivered straight to your inbox.
Loading More Posts...