Trusted for 23+ Years
Pregnancy Safe Lubricants
Dr. Lisa Lawless, CEO of Holistic Wisdom
Clinical Psychotherapist: Relationship & Sexual Health Expert
What Is Safe?
Navigating the realm of personal lubricants can feel confusing as there are many conflicting resources out there. There is a lot of bad advice. For example, on the one hand, some claim that all lubricants should be avoided; on the other, certain voices seem to champion lubricants containing ingredients such as parabens, despite their potential for endocrine disruption.
Then you throw in the challenge of getting pregnant, and understanding the chemistry of lubricants can become a genuine hurdle. Here we will review what is considered healthy for your vulva and what is sperm-friendly to encourage getting pregnant and have a healthy pregnancy.
What Is Fertility Friendly?
Much like we, as humans, depend on our surroundings to thrive, sperm, too, are bound by the chemistry of their environment. Sperm survival depends on various factors, including lubricant pH levels, temperature, exposure to air, and osmolality. A fertility-friendly lubricant is often referred to as a "trying to conceive" (TTC) lubricant.
To be fertility-friendly, the lubricant has to have the ideal pH levels and viscosity for healthy semen and fertile quality cervical fluid. The premise behind fertility-friendly lubricants comes down to a higher pH level than typical lubricants.
When a woman is in her ovulation phase, poised for conception, her body produces a more alkaline pH environment in the vagina. Fertility-friendly lubricants, rising to the occasion, follow this nature-scripted cue and present a higher pH level than typical lubricants.
The Importance Of pH Levels
When a woman is ovulating and ready for conception, her body produces a more alkaline pH environment in the vagina (pH levels around 7 - 7.9 range) as sperm is most healthy in a 7.4 pH level or higher. Therefore, a higher pH level makes a lubricant ideal for conception.
Because most lubricants have a pH level lower than ideal (between 4-5 pH), they may work against an optimal and fertile environment for sperm. That is why some suspect that they may cause problems for couples having difficulty in trying to get pregnant.
However, the Kinsey Institute has found that couples trying to conceive typically did not have difficulties using any lubricants while trying to conceive. Still, TTC lubricants may be something to consider for those who are having difficulty. For more information on pH, please see our pH Lubricants Guide.
The Importance Of Acid
You see, the vagina is an astoundingly well-constructed ecosystem. It naturally manufactures acid, a powerful weapon in its arsenal, designed to safeguard us from infections and viruses. This acid balances the vaginal pH level, making it a defender against these harmful intruders.
Consistently using a high pH level lubricant may disrupt this delicate equilibrium. You may not see the effects immediately, but gradually, the robust defense mechanism your body provides can be weakened.
This can be seen when you understand that pregnant women who have untreated infections like bacterial vaginosis are at increased risk for complications such as early labor or even miscarriage.
A healthy vaginal pH level at the lowest level is 3.7, and the average is about 4 to 4.5, which many lubricants on the market offer in pH levels. When a toxic imbalance occurs in the vagina, it drives the pH of the vagina up to 6 or higher, creating ideal conditions for unhealthy bacteria to thrive, so again, using a pH level in this range for vaginal health is typically ideal.
TTC Lubricant Concerns
There are only a few fertility-friendly lubricants, better known as TTC lubricants. However, it's important to approach some of the more popular ones with caution as they contain parabens which are possible hormone disruptors and may cause health issues.
To read more about this, see our Paraben-Free Lubricants Guide.
Examples of popular lubricants that have parabens in them that are marketed to be used when getting pregnant are Conceive Plus, Pre-seed, and Astroglide TTC, which all contain parabens such as methylparaben and propylparaben, which are listed under their ingredients and that is why we do not carry them as all our lubricants are paraben-free.
Furthermore, there is evidence that lubricants with high pH levels found in TTC lubricants may promote unhealthy bacterial growth, causing various infections. This then creates the question of whether or not to use them and, if so, which one to choose.
Talking with your healthcare provider might be the best course of action as being educated and empowered in your decision-making on this topic; good health is the most important thing for you and your future baby.
Glycerin & Yeast Infections
Some glycerin can cause yeast infections, so to ensure that you are not using a lubricant that may risk this, you may wish to avoid lubricants with glycerin or make sure you are using a lubricant with the right kind.
If the glycerin is vegan, ultra-pure, and pharmaceutical or medical grade, using it in a personal lubricants may be acceptable if it has not raised the osmolality to an unhealthy level. If it is food-grade glycerin containing fatty acids, it may more likely contribute to increased osmolality and a yeast infection.
Avoid These Lubricants
Women should avoid certain lubricants such as using lubricants that are not intended for vaginal use, such as petroleum jelly, and oils can promote conditions for both yeast and bacterial infections and damage vaginal tissue, increase susceptibility to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs / STIs).
FDA Labeling of TTC Lubricants
The FDA has created a classification system for lubricants. Unless a lubricant has gone through rigorous testing that it is clinically proven to be compatible with sperm, gamete, embryo, and the fertilization process, then it has to provide a warning label on the packaging letting consumers know that it may not be safe to use when trying to get pregnant.
This labeling almost means that a lubricant is assumed guilty before proven innocent, so it may unnecessarily scare consumers into not using lubricants. Not having an FDA label does not necessarily mean that the lubricant is harmful, just that it hasn't been specifically tested for compatibility with sperm, eggs, embryos, or the fertilization process.
Use For Short Periods
All of the lubricants that we carry are paraben-free, and those that are higher in pH and considered fertility-friendly (TTC-friendly) are labeled as such. Because of the concerns about using high pH-based lubricants, we urge women to avoid using them on an ongoing basis.
We consider only using a high pH lubricant such as this just during the time you are trying to conceive and during ovulation while using one of our paraben-free water-based lubricants the rest of the time to keep pH levels at an optimal level.
There is a great deal more to know about lubricants. If you want to learn more, we have additional information, such as the importance of osmolality and the types of lubricants, in our The Ultimate Personal Lubricant Guide.
Also, explore our Sex Toys & Vibrators While Pregnant Guide.