A couple laying together on the couch.

Can saliva hurt sperm?

Technically, yes saliva can hurt sperm. In practice, probably not. Saliva is mostly water, and water-based lubricants are known to negatively affect sperm’s journey to your egg, so it’s probably not best to use saliva as your main lubricant, but it’s unlikely to seriously impact your chances of conceiving unless your partner has a low sperm count to begin with.

How saliva may decrease the chances of conceiving

Saliva is a poor atmosphere for sperm, as it lacks the salinity and nutrients that exist in semen. Cervical fluid, on the other hand, is an excellent environment for sperm, as it helps facilitate the transport of sperm cells to your egg. If there is too much saliva in your vagina, and your partner’s sperm count is low to begin with, you may notice some difficulty getting pregnant.

Should I avoid oral sex when TTC?

If oral sex is part of your foreplay routine, you probably don’t need to stop when you are trying to conceive.

It’s unlikely that the amount of saliva introduced to your vagina after performing oral sex prior to intercourse would be enough to hurt your chances of conceiving. You’re more likely to introduce excess saliva into your vagina if you are the recipient of oral sex, however, so while it’s unlikely to make a difference in your ability to conceive, you may want to avoid this sort of foreplay when you are trying to conceive if you are looking for every edge possible.

The bottom line

While it is possible that saliva could hurt sperm and decrease your chances of conceiving, it’s fairly unlikely, and is really only problematic if your partner has a low sperm count to begin with. The most important thing is that you’re happy and comfortable, and if oral sex helps you do that (either giving or receiving), go for it!

  • Tulandi, T., Plouffe L., & McInnes R. A.. “Effect of saliva on sperm motility and activity. Fertility and Sterility.” December 1982.

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