Many women are not aware that most sexual lubricants can impair their fertility . Obviously, your standard lubricant is not a “spermicide” in the truest sense of the word and should never be used to try to prevent a pregnancy, but for couples struggling to achieve a pregnancy it can make a difference in their ability to conceive. This is because most lubricants are intended to not disrupt the natural conditions of the vagina.
The vagina normally has a pH of 3.8 to 4.2, anything over a pH of 4.5 can indicate a vaginal infection. This acidic pH is maintained by healthy bacteria that live in the vagina and produce acidic secretions. When the vagina has a low, or acidic, pH it is less susceptible to developing an infection. Being that this acidic condition is normal when a woman is healthy, many spermicides have pH’s that are acidic to more closely match the woman’s own body. Which brings us to our first point about lubricants and fertility. Seminal fluid has a pH of about 8.1, it is very basic and sperm cannot survive in acidic conditions. At the time of fertility the woman’s cervix begins to produce cervical fluid that has a similar basic pH, allowing for sperm survival only when the woman is fertile. Thus, if a couple was using an acidic sexual lubricant around the time of fertility they would be exposing the sperm to a very acidic solution that could increase the number of sperm killed.
The other factor to consider when looking at lubricants is what they look like on a microscopic level. At the time of fertility the cervix begins to secrete what is know as Type E mucus. This Type E mucus forms little microscopic channels that allow healthy sperm to quickly swim through the cervix, while preventing abnormal sperm from making their way through. Many lubricants do not allow for easy sperm penetration, in other words, the sperm have difficulty swimming through the lubricant.
So what’s a Creighton Model user to do? On days of infertility, use whatever lubricant you prefer, this is also true if you use a small amount of lubricant to help insert tampons, or vaginal medications. Water soluble lubricants are best. For times of fertility, we recommend the use of a sexual lubricant called PreSeed. The characteristics of PreSeed allow for greater sperm survival and sperm penetration through the lubricant. PreSeed can be used with or without an applicator and can be purchased on-line or at some pharmacies.
In all relationships there will be times when a couple will choose or need to avoid genital activity. Some examples of such times can include when a woman has her menses, illness, pelvic rest during pregnancy, after childbirth, when traveling etc. Couples using natural methods of family planning like the Creighton Model FertilityCare System may also choose to avoid genital activity on days of fertility if they wish to avoid a pregnancy.
The Creighton Model System is a holistic system that recognizes that the sexuality of a woman is more than just what is going on in her ovaries; it involves all of her relationships, none more so than the relationship with her spouse. That is why it is so important that during times when genital activity is not possible for whatever reason, the couple has recourse to other forms of intimacy that ultimately strengthen their bond and deepen their relationship.
Below is the content of an educational handout we provide to our clients to help them seek out the SPICE in their own relationships.
SPICE stands for Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, Communicative (or Creative) and Emotional ways of showing love and affection without genital contact. During the days that you choose to avoid genital contact, don’t avoid each other! Instead, plan SPICE activities in order to enhance your relationship.
Make a SPICE List:
- Make a list of ten non-genital activities that you enjoy—think loving and fun!
- Swap lists and talk about the activities. Are there interests and activities that appeal to you both?
- Make a plan to do some of these activities. For more spontaneity, write the individual activities on strips of paper and put the strips in a “SPICE jar.” When you’re ready to have some SPICE fun, pull out a strip and do that activity.
Plan a Date Night:
- Make a “date” with your loved one. This might be something as casual as going for a walk or as special as getting dressed up and going out to eat. The important thing is to make a date—a day and a time—and stick to it. Unless there’s an emergency, don’t let anything keep you from your plans.
- Take turns deciding what “date night” might be, this way both of you have a chance to plan a special evening. You can also plan a “surprise” date night.
- Date night can also be “date day” or “date weekend,” but the most important thing is to make “date night” a regular event.
Plan a Talk Night:
- Get comfortable, settle in, get something to eat or drink, cuddle together on the couch and talk about what’s going on in your lives.
- Your chat can be about external things: what’s happening at work, at home, in the news, with your friends, in your church, or in the world. Just talk. Turn off the TV, turn off the computer, put away the newspaper, and chat.
- If the conversation turns deep and emotional, that’s okay too. Sharing personal feelings about what’s going on in your lives or in our world will bring your relationship to a deeper and more intimate level.
Play “Do You Know This About Me?”
- Make a list of five or more things you don’t think your loved one knows about you. Does he (she) know that you always wanted to play the cello but never had the chance? Or that when you were ten you got lost while you were on a camping trip? Or that your favorite ice cream flavor is mint chocolate chip?
- After you’ve both made your lists, take turns revealing, one by one, those things you think your loved one doesn’t know. Take some time and talk about each item; don’t simply rush through the list.
- You can also play “Do you know this about me” as a quiz. Take your items, one by one, and take turns asking each other, for example, “Do you know what instrument I always wanted to play?”
Play “This Is What I Love about You”
- Sit down facing each other. Taking turns, say out loud what you love about the other. Don’t write down or plan your comments ahead of time. You can be serious or silly, but stick to what you love (not what you’d like to change!).
- These things can be physical (“I love the color of your eyes” or “I love how you laugh”).
- They can be emotional (“I love how you always comfort me when I’m upset).
- They can be personal characteristics (“I love how you’re so organized”).
- They can be experiences you’ve shared (“I loved when we went sled riding last winter”)
Use Your Imagination:
- Not all couples are alike in how they show non-genital affection. As a couple, talk about what feels “right” to each of you, and how you as individuals and as a couple can maintain and enhance your relationship during those times when you are avoiding genital contact.
- Write your ideas down. Talking about how you might find ways to express love and affection without genital contact and then putting those ideas into action will deeper your regard and respect for one another and improve your communication.
Cortney Davis, APRN, CFCP, was awarded the 2012 Reverend Donald O’Leary Culture of Life Award. The award, given to Cortney as the responsible practitioner for Nutmeg FertilityCare, was presented at the annual Connecticut Right to Life Corporation Convention held in Cromwell, CT. on May 12. The award recognized Cortney and all the practitioners of Nutmeg FertilityCare for their work in bringing the Creighton Model to women and couples throughout CT.
The practitioners of Nutmeg FertilityCare meet quarterly to review the latest updates in women’s health, to present complex cases, discuss ways to improve the care we are able to provide, and for continuing education.
Nutmeg FertilityCare is pleased to announce that Alexandra McLaughlin, FCP has recently joined Nutmeg FertilityCare. Alexandra sees clients in Norwalk, CT and brings years of professional and personal experience to our group. Learn more about Alexandra by clicking on her bio page.
We would like to congratulate Cortney Davis, APRN, MA, CFCP on recently becoming certified through the American Academy of FertilityCare Professionals! This distinction is for practitioners that provide exemplary care and education to their clients and submit their charts and files to the Academy for review. Congratulations!
We women typically learn about feminine hygeine products long before we can drive a car. As Fertility Care Practitioners, we see many women clients who, nevertheless, are not well informed regarding all of the products on the market. So let’s consider some of your questions:
“How often should they be changed?” Ideally, ever 4-6 hours–however it is safe to leave them in up to eight hours.
“Can I put in a super plus tampon for all-day or all-night coverage?” No. Using the lowest possible absorbancy decreases the risk of developing Toxic Shock Syndrome, a very serious blood infection. If you are having a moderate flow day, use a regular absorbany tampon. Tampons should never be left in over night!
“When I insert tampons it feels like tampon is going toward my back; is there something wrong with the placement of my vagina?” No, in fact it’s normal to aim the tampon toward the small of your back for easier insertion. Anatomically, your uterus is situated behind your bladder. Your vagina, the passageway that leads to your uterus is angled up toward the small of your back.
“I always use deodorized (scented) tampons but my practitioner told me not to. Why?” The chemicals used as deodorizers or perfumes in tampons, toilet paper and bath products can cause irritation of the delicate vaginal tissues. In response to this irritation, the vaginal glands produce mucus to “wash away” the irritants. Women who are sensitive to these perfumes and deodorizers may find themselves having abnormal discharges and, in some cases, daily mucus.
“I wear a pantyliner every day. I like to feel fresh. That’s okay, right?” It’s best to wear all cotton underwear and save the pantyliners for days when you have a heavy flow of cervical mucus or the light days of your period. But if you like to wear a pantyliner every day, be sure to change it several times throughout the day. Also, consider using cloth pads rather than pantyliners to lower the risk of irritation and abnormal vaginal discharge.
Do you have any other questions about feminine products? Please let us know!