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The effect of vaginal lubricants on sperm motility in vitro.

Catherine McDiarmid-Watt | Tuesday, June 05, 2007 | 2 comments

Apart from the documentation of the spermicidal effects of KY Jelly and Surgilube, little information about the effect of vaginal lubricants on sperm motility has been available. Fifteen substances utilizable as vaginal lubricants were therefore tested for their effect on sperm motility in vitro. Petroleum jelly and glycerin had minimal detrimental effects on motility and apparently are the lubricants of choice when an infertility problem exists.

PIP: Commercially available vaginal lubricants were evaluated for their effect on sperm motility in an in vitro sperm motility test. 20 samples were tested in duplicate; and motility was evaluated at 15 minutes and 2 hours; qualitative assessment of motility was made by using a scale of 0-4+, with 0 representing no motility and 4+ representing motility equal to the original motility of the sample before exposure to vaginal lubricant. The lubricants tested, followed by 15-minute and 2-hour results, are as follows:

Control: 4+, 3-4+; H-R Jelly: 1+, 0; KY Jelly: 0, 0; Lubifax: 0, 0; Surgilube: 0, 0; Ortho-gynol: 0, 0; Alpha-Keri: 0, 0; Keri lotion: 0-1+, 0; pHisohex: 0, 0; Searle skin lotion: 0-1+, 0; vegetable oil: 3+, 2+; olive oil: 2+, 3+; safflower oil: 3+, 3+; peanut oil: 3+, 3+; Vaseline petroleum jelly: 2-3+, 3-4+; and gylcerin: 3+, 3-4+.

Therefore, petroleum jelly and glycerin had minimal detrimental effects on motility and apparently are the lubricants of choice when infertility problems exist.

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About Catherine: I am mom to three grown sons, two grandchildren and two rescue dogs. After years of raising my boys as a single mom, I remarried a wonderful man who had never had a child of his own. Unexpectedly, I found myself pregnant at 49!
Sadly we lost that precious baby at 8 weeks, and decided to try again. Five more losses, turned down for donor egg, foster care and adoption due to my age and losses - we have accepted that there will be no more babies in our house.

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  1. Interesting data on sperm motility. However, I wonder about the exposure time. 15 minute exposure is a long time compared to the time the sperm is exposed to the lubricant.

    I have always considered genetics and lifestyle so much more pertinent to overall motility. There was a recent article in Science detailing the effects of Diabetes on sperm quality. Check out my analyis at

    I recently started a Science cafe called "Down to a Science" in San Francisco. It's a casual forum to discuss social issues from a science perspective. The next cafe topic is on Fertility with the two top Bay Area researchers speaking. I keep up on fertility issues to continue the discussion after the event. Watch for video of the event around June 25th.

    Great blog, just blown away at the hope that exists for so many potential parents.

  2. I have to agree with you. The way they test is not the same as "in real life", so I don't know how accurate it could possibly be.

    Great blog you have there, I went and checked it out!

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