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Are Lubricants Friendly to Sperm?

Wondering whether lubricants are sperm friendly? If lube plays a key role in your sex life, it makes sense that you’d want to keep using it when TTC.

But could your lubricant be harming your chances of conceiving? Here we break down the research into different types of lube and find out which lubricants are sperm friendly – and which definitely aren’t! 

Are water-based lubricants sperm friendly?

You might think that something based on the most natural liquids in the world isn’t going to do harm to your swimmers – but you’d be wrong. One study found that water-based lubricants are actually some of the worst lubricants for sperm health when it comes to motility. The research indicated that water-based lubes could totally paralyse your swimmers within 5 minutes and kill a lot of them within an hour. 

K-Y Jelly is one of the most popular water-based lubricants out there, but if you’re trying to conceive you should definitely give it a miss. One study found that when sperm samples were combined with K-Y Jelly in a lab, 80% had no motile sperm, and the ones that did had only 5% motility. Further research indicated that the Tinging range had an even more detrimental effect on sperm health, so whilst it might be fun to add a little tingle into your sex life – it’s not great if you are trying to get pregnant. 

Are silicone-based lubricants sperm friendly?

Some couples prefer silicone-based lubricants for their lovemaking sessions – especially if they are fans of shower sex! Silicone-based lubricants have been shown to be less harmful to sperm than water-based lubes, but when combined with semen samples in a lab, research does indicate that they can affect sperm motility if the two are left together for too long. 

Are oil-based lubricants sperm friendly?

More and more people are sliding into pleasure with things they find in their bathroom or kitchen. Natural lubricants like coconut oil and olive oil are loved by those who want to keep their sex life chemical-free (and olive oil was actually the lube of choice for all those horny Ancient Roman and Greeks!

Whilst less research has been done into natural lubricants, there are still some small studies that indicate that both coconut oil and olive oil could impair sperm motility, as the natural oils make it harder for them to swim! Another natural lubricant – mustard oil – however, did not affect motility and has even been found to send sperm cells into a ’hyperactive’ frenzy!

Another popular based oil lubricant is baby oil, which, compared to shop-bought lubes is not too bad for sperm motility, although some studies have still indicated some negative impact on motility. So if you’re indulging in some oiled up Magic Mike fantasy, you might want to keep it away from your baby-making bits.  

Is saliva a sperm-friendly lubricant?

For many years, salvia was actually recommended by doctors as the best lubricant for couples struggling to conceive. However, more recent research has revealed that, shockingly, saliva can mess your swimmers up even more than lubes you buy in the shops! The study found that when combining sperm samples with saliva in a lab, sperm motility plummeted to near zero after 15 minutes! 

Are conception lubes really sperm friendly? 

Smart lube brands have become aware of the eager market of TTC couples who want a lube that won’t damage their sperm – and could even improve their chances of conceiving. The truth is that the vast majority of ‘fertility friendly’ lubes don’t have a lot of scientific research to back it up. If you’re hoping that they will make a big difference to your fertility chances, we’d recommend saving your money. 

One of the only conception lubes that does have a medical seal of approval is PreSeed. A study indicated that progressive motility did increase when sperm cells came into contact with the lube, although other research implies that that might have been a fluke. 

Does this mean I can’t use lube when trying to conceive?

Well, kind of. Most of the studies above have been based on combining semen samples with each lubricant in a lab. Whilst this scientific evidence is certainly not to be ignored, when we look at real-life situations, it’s hard to determine exactly how much lubricant impacts sperm performance – as there are often so many other factors at play.

However, one study of 300 women found that couples that used lube – either frequently or occasionally –  were no less likely to become pregnant than those who never used lube – so maybe it’s not all bad news for lube lovers after all!

Whilst the science still might be a bit inconclusive, if you are dealing with low motility already it might be a good idea to lay off the line for a bit to give yourself more chance of getting pregnant. However, if you need lube in your life to make sex enjoyable – or even not painful – then baby oil might be your best bet! 

What about when I give a sperm sample? 

When taking our at-home sperm test, we always recommend that you give lube a miss altogether. You want to get the most accurate reading possible, so anything that could impair your motility or make your swimmers start acting out (here’s looking at your Mustard Oil) should be avoided. 

Want to take your fertility into your own hands? Check out our at-home sperm test right here! 

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More to explore


Wearing tight pants and underwear

Studies show that men who wear looser underwear have higher sperm concentration and total sperm count compared to men who wear tighter underwear. So, lose the tight clothes and wear something loose to give your testicles some air.

CONCLUSION: learn more about how heat can affect sperm quality here.


Besides higher mortality rate and various diseases, stress is associated with low sperm quality. Stress is known to be associated with lower testosterone levels and oxidative stress with both playing an essential role in producing and maintaining healthy sperm cells.

CONCLUSION: If you feel stressed, we recommend you get some help so you can have a balanced mental health. For a stress management guide, download the ExSeed app for free and start your personalized action plan today.

Physical activity

Scientific studies show that men who are physically active have better semen parameters than men who are inactive. Fertility specialists also state that regular physical activity has beneficial impact on sperm fertility parameters and such a lifestyle can enhance the fertility status of men.

Prioritizing exercise can help improve your overall health and result in healthy, fast swimming sperm cells that have good chances of fertilizing an egg.

CONCLUSION: Try incorporating exercise in your weekly schedule to you ensure exercising at least twice weekly. We recommend a combination of cardio training and strength exercise. Read more about exercise and male fertility on our blog.


Fast Food
Processed foods damage the health of sperm-producing cells and cause oxidative stress, which lead to poorer sperm quality. Heavy consumption of junk food (every week) can increase the likelihood of infertility since men who consume vast amounts of unhealthy food are at risk of having poor sperm quality. Besides harming your fertility, junk food enlarges your waistline, harms your cardiovascular system, kidneys, and more.

Eating more fruit and vegetables can increase your sperm concentration and motility. It’s important that you consume a healthy diet filled with antioxidants and that you eat vegetables every day. Foods such as apricots and red bell peppers are high in vitamin A, which improves male fertility by nurturing healthier sperm. Men who are deficient in this vitamin tend to have slow and sluggish sperm.

Sugary snacks/beverages: several times a week Excessive consumption of high sugar items can lead to oxidative stress, which negatively impacts testosterone levels and sperm motility. Sugary snacks and beverages are also highly associated with obesity and low fertility.
CONCLUSION: To boost sperm quality, stay away from fast food, processed food, and sugary snacks or beverages. You need to implement a healthy prudent diet filled with necessary superfoods needed for good sperm production. Check out our guide to Male Fertility Superfoods. For personalized guidance and support on how you can start improving your sperm health, check out the Bootcamp.


Direct heat can inhibit optimal sperm production and cause Sperm DNA damage. Sperm cells like environments that are a couple of degrees lower than body temperature. Avoid overheating from warm blankets, seat warmers, heat from your laptop, hot showers, and saunas.

Cigarette smoking

The exposure to tobacco smoke has significant negative effects on semen quality. The damage of cigarettes and nicotine of course depends on how many cigarettes you smoke per day and for how long, but even low usage (up to 10 cigarettes / day) can inhibit healthy sperm production.  

CONCLUSION: Stay as far away from cigarette smoking as possible if you care about your general health and your fertility. Read more here.

Cell phone

When you have your cell phone in your front pocket, your testicles are exposed to electromagnetic radiation, which studies have shown to damage the sperm cells. Put your phone in the back pocket of your pants or in your jacket pocket.


There is a clear association between obesity and reduced sperm quality. At least part of the reason for this is that obese men may have abnormal reproductive hormonal profiles, which can impair sperm production and lead to infertility. 

A BMI higher than 30 can lead to several processes in the body (overheating, increase in oxidative stress in the testes, sperm DNA damage, erectile dysfunction) that can have a negative impact on male fertility. This can result in problems when trying to conceive.  

CONCLUSION: BMI is one of the risk factors that influence semen quality and, for example, sperm motility.  


A beer or glass of wine now and then do not really harm sperm quality. But excess alcohol drinking (more than 20 units per week) can reduce the production of normally formed sperm needed for a successful pregnancy.

CONCLUSION: If you want to stay safe, stay under 14 units of alcohol per week. For more information on how alcohol can affect male fertility, take a look at our blog: “Alcohol and Sperm Quality”.


Studies show that women younger than 35 and men younger than 40 have a better chance of getting pregnant. Men can produce sperm cells almost through their entire life, but the sperm cell DNA is more fragile and prone to damage after the age of 40.

As men age, their testes tend to get smaller and softer resulting in a decline in sperm quality and production. These changes are partly because of an age-related decrease in testosterone level, which plays a very important role in sperm

production. Higher male age (>40 years) is not only associated with a decline in sperm production but also with increased sperm DNA fragmentation and worsened morphology (shape) and motility (movement). These negative effects make the sperm cells less qualified for egg fertilization.

CONCLUSION: with an age under 40, you shouldn’t have to worry much about age as a factor in itself. However, studies have shown a slow decline after the age of 30-35 years

and if you are above 40 years of age, your sperm quality can be affected due to increased sperm DNA damage resulting in a decrease of sperm motility and concentration. Remember that you cannot evaluate the quality of a sperm sample by just looking at it – this requires a sperm analysis.