Gel lubricant is a water-based gel that is commonly used during sexual intercourse or during vaginal exams. On occasion it may be used for other medical procedures, such as rectal examinations. It is generally clear and odorless with a consistency slightly thicker than water to provide maximum comfort.
In the medical field, gel lubricant is commonly used during vaginal exams and trans-vaginal ultrasounds. It is added directly to the speculum or ultrasound device in order to make penetration more comfortable and to allow freer movement while examining the area. Using lubricant may also avoid irritation from the equipment rubbing against the walls of the vagina. Rectal examinations may also require lubricant to ensure comfort and to prevent rectal tearing.
Women can also purchase gel lubricant over the counter for use during sexual intercourse or to help alleviate symptoms of vaginal dryness. One common brand of lubricant is K-Y Jelly®. Various other varieties of lubricant can also be purchased, including those with various flavors, colors, and warming ingredients.
Before using any gel lubricant, it is important to check all labels carefully. Water-based lubricants are the most common, but there may also be oil-based varieties available. When using a latex condom, it is very important to only use water-based products, as oil can wear away the latex and cause tears. It is also important to ensure that lubricant being purchased is specifically designed for the purpose for which it is going to be used. For example, there are various massage lubricants on the market that are not intended for vaginal use.
If at any time during use of a lubricant irritation or redness occurs, the product should not longer be used. Irritation, burning, redness, swelling, or itching that persists for longer than a day should be examined by a doctor. This could signal an allergic reaction. Signs of a severe, but rare, allergic response include shortness of breath, dizziness, and heart palpitations. These should be reported to a doctor immediately.
When using gel lubricant, it is generally a good idea to insert the gel directly onto the hand before applying to the vaginal area. Hands should be thoroughly washed before doing so. This allows the gel to be warmed slightly on the hands and fingers before application. Gel should not be warmed in the microwave or stovetop to prevent burns or serious injury.