Vaginal lubricants for the infertile couple: effect on sperm activity

Int J Fertil Menopausal Stud. Jul-Aug 1996;41(4):400-4.


Objective: To determine the effects of natural vegetable oils and vaginal lubricants on sperm motion and viability.

Design: Four widely used vaginal lubricants (K-Y Jelly, Astroglide, Replens, and Touch) and two vegetable oil products that have been used as vaginal lubricants were purchased through local vendors. Sperm was obtained by masturbation without lubrication from normal, healthy donors. Lubricants were mixed with sperm from individual donors and the effects on sperm motility were determined at 1, 15, 30, and 60 minutes.

Setting: Southwestern Fertility Associates of The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

Main outcome measures: Sperm motility was evaluated by manual motility counts and by computer-assisted semen analysis. Sperm viability was evaluated with Hoechst 33258 dye. The effects of the various lubricants were compared with those of a spermicidal agent, Gynol II (negative control) and Ham's F-10 (positive control).

Results: Commercial lubricants inhibited sperm motility by 60-100% after 60 minutes of incubation. Sperm exposed to Replens or Astroglide were nonmotile and nonviable after incubation for 60 minutes, similar to the control, nonoxynol-9 containing product Gynol II. Canola oil had no detrimental effects and was indistinguishable from Ham's F-10 in terms of sperm viability and motility.

Conclusions: For couples with infertility, the use of vaginal lubricants during intercourse is not recommended. In cases where a lubricant is required, careful selection can maximize sperm motility and viability.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Cell Survival
  • Cellulose / adverse effects
  • Cellulose / analogs & derivatives
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated / adverse effects
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Glycerol / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Infertility / physiopathology
  • Lipids
  • Lubrication
  • Male
  • Olive Oil
  • Osmolar Concentration
  • Phosphates / adverse effects
  • Plant Oils / adverse effects
  • Propylene Glycols / adverse effects
  • Rapeseed Oil
  • Sperm Motility / drug effects
  • Sperm Motility / physiology*
  • Spermatozoa / chemistry
  • Spermatozoa / drug effects
  • Spermatozoa / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Vaginal Creams, Foams, and Jellies / adverse effects*


  • Astroglide
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated
  • K-Y jelly
  • Lipids
  • Olive Oil
  • Phosphates
  • Plant Oils
  • Propylene Glycols
  • Rapeseed Oil
  • Replens
  • Vaginal Creams, Foams, and Jellies
  • Cellulose
  • Glycerol