Effect of lubricants and a vaginal spermicide gel on the detection of prostate specific antigen, a biomarker of semen exposure, using a quantitative (Abbott ARCHITECT) assay

Contraception. 2014 Feb;89(2):134-8. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2013.09.016. Epub 2013 Nov 12.


Objectives: Little is known about the effects of commonly used lubricants on detection of biomarkers of semen exposure. We investigated the in vitro effect of Gynol®, K-Y Jelly®, Replens®, Astroglide®, Carbopol, and Silicorel on quantitative detection of prostate specific antigen (PSA).

Study design: A predetermined concentration of each of the gels was added to serially diluted semen samples. Additionally, serial dilutions of each of the gels were added to three different semen dilutions (high, medium, or low). The resulting samples were tested for PSA on the Abbott ARCHITECT System.

Results: When using the Abbott ARCHITECT system, the only products that inhibited PSA detection were Gynol® and Replens®. The inhibition caused by Gynol® was dose-dependent, but that of Replens was dose-independent. K-Y Jelly®-spiked samples had higher PSA values than controls.

Conclusions: Caution is warranted when using the Abbott quantitative assay for PSA detection as a biomarker of semen exposure in settings where Gynol®, Replens® or K-Y Jelly® might also have been used. Neither Astroglide® nor Silicorel inhibited PSA detection. Additional studies evaluating other vaginal products, including microbicides, and their effects on other assays, are needed. In vivo studies will be especially important to optimize PSA detection from clinical samples.

Implications: Researchers should consider the potential for specific lubricants or any vaginal products to affect the particular assay used for semen biomarker detection. The Abbott ARCHITECT's total PSA assay should not be used with the product Replens. Caution is warranted when using the assay in settings where Gynol or K-Y jelly may have been used.

Keywords: Lubricants; Prostate-specific antigen; Semen biomarkers; Spermicide; Vaginal products.

MeSH terms

  • Contraindications
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoassay
  • Lubricants* / adverse effects
  • Luminescent Measurements
  • Male
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / analysis*
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Spermatocidal Agents* / adverse effects


  • Lubricants
  • Spermatocidal Agents
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen