Beware of vaginal lubricants
Some vaginal lubricants may not be harmless to sperm and could actually thwart their egg-bound journey.
Researchers studied four gels in the lab, of which only one - Pre-Seed - appeared not to be toxic to sperm.
Women who suffer from vaginal dryness often use lubricants to improve the comfort of intercourse. The gels can also be employed to ease the insertion of medical devices, including probes used for imaging tests during the course of fertility treatment
In a study funded by Hygis, Dr Senn and his colleagues tested the survival of donated sperm after 24 hours of exposure to commercially available lubricants labelled as non-spermicidal. The gels were diluted to mimic typical exposure in the vagina.
One of the lubricants, Aquasonic Ultrasound Gel, is commonly used for ultrasounds to monitor the follicle development in fertility patients before intercourse or insemination. The rest were products predominantly used by couples or as a vaginal lubricant for middle-aged and older women.
At the end of the 24 hours, three of the four gels - Felis Lubricant, Replens Vaginal Moisturizer and Aquasonic - had reduced sperm movement
by up to 88%, despite saying "non-spermicidal" on the label.
The products tested did not contain chemical spermicide, but rather only included ingredients generally thought of as harmless, such as glycerin.
However, the researchers found that the slight acidity of these compounds created poor conditions for sperm. They also note the possibility of other direct impacts from the gels that might slow sperm down.
They suggest that this gel may be most appropriate among those studied for patients trying to conceive, as well as for clinicians performing fertility procedures.
"Couples should be aware of the potential toxicity of commercially available lubricants," advised Senn. "These lubricants are designed to ease vaginal dryness, but they may not be designed for a couple trying to conceive." Do you use a vaginal lubricant?