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Effect of Vaginal Lubricants on Natural Fertility

Steiner, Anne Z. MD, MPH; Long, D. Leann MS; Tanner, Catherine MD; Herring, Amy H. ScD

doi: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e31825b87ae
Original Research

OBJECTIVE: Over-the-counter vaginal lubricants have been shown to negatively affect in vitro sperm motility. The objective of this study was to estimate the effect of vaginal lubricant use during procreative intercourse on natural fertility.

METHODS: Women aged 30–44 years with no history of infertility who had been trying to conceive for less than 3 months completed a baseline questionnaire on vaginal lubricant use. Subsequently, women kept a diary to record menstrual bleeding, intercourse, and vaginal lubricant use and conducted standardized pregnancy testing for up to 6 months. Diary data were used to determine the fertile window and delineate lubricant use during the fertile window. A proportional hazards model was used to estimate fecundability ratios with any lubricant use in the fertile window considered as a time-varying exposure.

RESULTS: Of the 296 participants, 75 (25%) stated in their baseline questionnaire that they use vaginal lubricants while attempting to conceive. Based on daily diary data, 57% of women never used a lubricant, 29% occasionally used a lubricant, and 14% used a lubricant frequently. Women who used lubricants during the fertile window had similar fecundability to those women who did not use lubricants (fecundability ratio 1.05, 95% confidence interval 0.59–1.85) after adjusting for age, partner race, and intercourse frequency in the fertile window.

CONCLUSION: Lubricants are commonly used by couples during procreative intercourse. Lubricant use during procreative intercourse does not appear to reduce the probability of conceiving.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: II

Using vaginal lubricant during intercourse does not appear to harm natural fertility.

From the Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Biostatistics and Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville.

Supported by grants NIH R21 HD060229, 5 K12 HD050113 (UNC WRHR), and T32ES007018.

The authors thank Dr. Donna Baird for contributing to the initial study design and analysis.

Corresponding author: Anne Z. Steiner, MD, MPH, CB#7570, 4001 Old Clinic Building, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599; e-mail: asteiner@med.unc.edu.

Financial Disclosure The authors did not report any potential conflicts of interest.

© 2012 The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists