Conception and Sexual Lubricants

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Dr. Myrtle,

My partner and I are trying to become pregnant, but we struggle with vaginal dryness. Is one lubricant better than another, or should we use anything at all? Do you know anything about a product called Pre~seed? Help!


Infertility (the inability to become pregnant) is due to sperm-related (male) problems about 33% of the time. More than half of couples trying to conceive also deal with the usual problems of skin & vaginal dryness, and logically turn to sexual lubricants or saliva to solve that problem. Choosing a compatible lubricant is important, because scientific research is shows that many sexual lubricants impair not only the movement, but also the survival of sperm.

The most important features of sperm fertility success are staying alive and retaining mobility around. For this they’ll need:

  • a basic pH environment (or in gardening lingo, lime [basic] not sweet [acidic]),
  • a moderate amount of food (glucose is preferred over fruit sugars),
  • the perfect amount of salts (aka osmolality),
  • a liquid-y swimming fluid, aka semen (too dry makes it too sticky, and too concentrated makes the semen toxic),
  • no alcohol (dissolves their membranes),
  • and should we say, a little bit of lovin’?

Commonly available sexual lubricants such as KY, Astroglide, & Replens have all been shown to stop sperm in their tracks, and kill sperm after an hour’s time in the pool. Even that natural stand-by, saliva, decreases sperm movement and progression.

So what’s a couple to do?

  1. Increase your arousal before penetration. Vaginal lubrication is increased when a woman is highly aroused, because arousal is the process of bringing blood and fluid to the genitals. Watching erotic movies together, masturbating to orgasm before penetration, and gee, having fun with intimacy can go quite a way toward improving the vaginal moisture of many women. I know trying to get pregnant can seem like a chore, especially after you’ve been trying for a while, but maybe you need to look at sexual arousal as a goal, rather than seeing penetration-just-to-get-pregnant as your goal.
  2. Prolonged sexual arousal improves the fertility characteristics of men’s sperm as well! Semen (sperm + carrying fluid from the epididymis, prostate & seminal vesicles) is enhanced with 3-day periods of abstinence (no ejaculation), followed by a prolonged sexual arousal and multiple ejaculations. (In terms of animal husbandry, the second and third (!) ejaculate is far more "fertile" than the first.) So as your partner is nearing her egg-releasing time (ovulation), hold off on ejaculation for 3 days, then plan a day-long tantric sex extravaganza! (Yes, you might have to take a day off work, but this seems like nice homework.)
  3. Men! Eat your fruits, vegetables and nuts! It is no coincidence that avocados and strawberries are considered aphrodisiacs: they contain some fine antioxidants which help preserve the sperm and semen from toxic substances. Sperm are very sensitive to something called “oxidative stress”, and anti-oxidants in the diet have a relationship to the amount of protection they can provide in semen. Chocolate is your friend.
  4. I’m sorry to say that you might not want to exercise heavily during your three days of abstinence, although cold showers are okay. Some animal studies suggest that seminal oxidative stress increases in proportion to the amount of exercise the animal performs. So low-to-moderate exercise might be best to support your semen.

But Doctor, I still have a lubrication issue!

Your two best options seem to be using very small amounts of:

  1. FeMani Lubricant
  2. Uberlube

Some of our conception-focused customers have also had good luck with using very small amounts of silicone-based lubricants, such as FeManiLubricant or Uberlube, although I have not seen research studies specifically addressing these products. We do know that silicone-coated catheters used to collect semen for insemination from men with spinal cord injuries had a minimal effect on the motility and survival of sperm.

We also know that stable medium-to-long chain oils such as canola or mineral oil have no effect on sperm viability or motility. (Olive oil, like saliva, even in low concentrations, decreases sperm movement.) However, oils are not a good choice for many women, since the vaginal space doesn’t clear oils very easily.

Finally, how you apply the lubricant might also be important: Most people struggle with dryness at the vaginal opening and on the vulva, as well as dryness along the penis shaft. Applying a very light layer of silicone lube on the shaft of the penis and/or on the vulva and opening of the vagina will give you lubricant where you need it most, and avoid the area near the cervix where semen will be deposited to begin their journey up through the uterus. This massage could certainly fit into the prolonged tantric sex session I suggested above.

Best of luck.

Dr. Myrtle