Slip-Sliding Away-Lubricants And Sperm
Vaginal Dryness Is A Problem
For many couples, conceiving a baby is no problem at all and for others it requires some real focus. When a couple is trying to conceive, scheduled and more frequent intercourse around the time of ovulation is necessary and along with this increase of sexual activity there can be vaginal dryness. Approximately 75 percent of couples who are trying to conceive claim they have a problem with vaginal dryness and, as a result, often use vaginal lubricants to help relieve the discomfort.
Lubricants May Not Be The Right Answer
However, this may be causing more problems than it is solving. Studies have shown that lubricants mixed with human sperm have the potential to alter the integrity and function of the sperm and ultimately cause a decrease in fertility. Lubricants may affect the ability of the sperm to move (motility) which is a big issue for couples dealing with infertility. Another side effect is the potential of DNA damage in the sperm. Inside the sperm, the DNA is wound around protein blocks which act as protection as the sperm moves toward the egg. Even though there is this protection, some sperm may be damaged in the journey.
An Experiment To Test The Efficacy Of Lubricants
In a bid to examine the effects of vaginal lubricants on sperm motility and DNA, an experiment was conducted involving 13 male donors with normal fertility. They each gave semen samples for testing. In the motility test the samples were diluted and 10 percent solutions from four different lubricants were added. The four lubricants were FemGlide, Pre-Seed, Replens, and Astroglide and the dilution percentage was based on the concentration of the lubricants after intercourse and ejaculation. It takes about 15 to 30 minutes for the majority of fertilizing sperm to make its way through the cervix after ejaculation. Using this guideline, the evaluation of the sperm was done after 30 minutes at body temperature to best simulate what happens during intercourse.
To test the effect of lubricants on sperm DNA, the semen samples were cultured for four hours and the same four lubricants were added to the samples. K-Y Jelly is known to reduce sperm function and was added to the experiment as the negative test. After the specified time, they were evaluated for damaged fragmented DNA.
What The Experiment Showed
The results of the motility test showed Replens and Astroglide lowered sperm motility after 30 minutes. FemGlide also had a similar effect; however, it was not as dramatic. Pre-Seed did not affect the motility of sperm in this experiment. In the case of sperm DNA damage, both FemGlide and K-Y Jelly increased damage to DNA by 10 percent or more as compared to the control group. Pre-Seed showed some damage, but inconsequential enough to not be considered a problem.
Sperm require optimal conditions to be most effective and lubricants may alter the environment in which the sperm must function, thus creating problems with fertility. This particular study seems favorable toward Pre-Seed; however, the result of one study is not enough to be definitive.