The effects of coital lubricants on sperm motility in vitro

Hum Reprod. 1998 Dec;13(12):3351-6. doi: 10.1093/humrep/13.12.3351.


Infertility affects approximately 15% of couples, and in about one-third the primary cause is a male factor. Patients undergoing infertility investigations frequently experience sexual dysfunction, which often is due to inadequate vaginal lubrication. This can lead to increased use of coital lubricants. The effects of such lubricants on sperm motility have not been widely studied, although sperm motility is one of the best prognostic indicators of fertilization. Using a prospective longitudinal control-based study, we analysed the effect of adding four lubricants: KY jelly, baby oil, olive oil and saliva on sperm motion in 16 samples from patients undergoing infertility investigations. Sperm samples were prepared by density gradient centrifugation prior to mixing with lubricants. Motility parameters were determined using computer-assisted semen analysis after 5, 15 and 30 min. All lubricants except baby oil significantly decreased percentage progressive motility, progressive velocity, curvilinear velocity and lateral head displacement at 12.5% concentration. At a lower concentration of 6.25%, both olive oil and saliva still significantly reduced progressive motility parameters, while KY jelly diminished head movement parameters. Hence, even at these very low concentrations, coital lubricants impair sperm motility and thus may adversely affect fertility.

MeSH terms

  • Cellulose / analogs & derivatives*
  • Cellulose / pharmacology
  • Glycerol / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Lubrication
  • Male
  • Oils / pharmacology*
  • Olive Oil
  • Phosphates / pharmacology*
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology*
  • Propylene Glycols / pharmacology*
  • Saliva
  • Sperm Motility / drug effects*
  • Spermatozoa / cytology
  • Spermatozoa / drug effects*


  • K-Y jelly
  • Oils
  • Olive Oil
  • Phosphates
  • Plant Oils
  • Propylene Glycols
  • Cellulose
  • Glycerol