Lubricant jelly is a gelatinous liquid, typically either water or silicone-based, that is used to moisten skin and soften body orifices. Medical professionals often keep it on hand to ease insertion of vaginal speculums, rectal thermometers, and other instruments that must be put into the body. Some jellies can also be used during sexual intercourse to replace or enhance natural lubrication, and women may keep these sorts of products on hand to ease or relieve vaginal dryness.
Doctors and other healthcare professionals frequently stock medical-grade lubricant jelly to ease pain and discomfort during routine health exams. These sorts of jellies are biologically inert, which means that they will not interfere with test results — if a nurse uses the jelly to guide a probe into the body to collect cell samples, for instance, the cells can be tested without worry that they have been tainted or any way altered. Most can also be safely used with latex gloves, which allows for sterile exams.
Lubricant jelly is also popular as a means of preventing soreness and tearing during sexual intercourse. The sensitive genital areas will usually self-lubricate when aroused, but dehydration, stress, hormonal changes, and certain medications like antihistamines can decrease moistness. When this happens, applying a bit of lubricant can make the experience more pleasurable. It is usually applied to the penis, vagina, or anus.
Women who suffer from chronic vaginal dryness may also use lubricant jelly as a way of staying moist. Dryness can be caused by menopause, pregnancy, lactation, or medications. Since the vagina is a mucous membrane, ongoing dryness can be quite uncomfortable, and can also alter the pH of the vagina and make a woman more susceptible to yeast infections. Over-the-counter lubrication jelly may be applied internally and externally as needed.
Many of the most popular lubricant jellies are water-based, which means that they contain mostly water and are water-soluble. Most medical-grade products come within this category. These jellies are not sticky or tacky, and do not usually stain fabrics or clothing. They are often hypoallergenic, as well.
Silicone lubricant jellies are oil or petroleum-based. They often last for a lot longer than water-based varieties, but can also be harder to wash off, and may leave marks on some fabrics. Silicone jellies can generally be used with latex, but not always. This is a particular concern with condoms — a silicone-based lubricant that weakens condom material increases the risk of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. Latex-certified jellies are usually the best option when condoms are involved. Most of the time, this sort of certification is prominently displayed on the jelly’s packaging or safety information.
Many pharmacies and drug stores sell a variety of lubricant jellies. The most standard are clear and unscented, but it is also possible to find some that are colored and flavored. Some jellies also contain a warming ingredient, usually capsaicin, that is derived from chili peppers. This is usually designed for pleasure during intimacy, but can prove irritating to some people.
Health and Allergy Precautions
Lubricant jellies are typically safe to use on all skin types, but can cause allergic reactions or sensitivities in some people. It is a good idea for people who have sensitive skin or are prone to topical rashes are allergies to test out a jelly on the back of the hand or inside of the arm before applying it to the genitals.