KY Jelly: Main Uses, Application in Medical Procedures

KY jelly is a water based, stable, odorless, non-greasy and non-staining lubricant. It spreads evenly and is used by doctors and nurses to lubricate rubber products, rectal thermometers, rectal and vaginal nozzles for infants and adults. It is also a personal lubricant used during intimacy. KY jelly is a topical emollient, and has no added color or perfume.

KY gel reduces friction between the device and body and enhance the entry of a diagnostic or therapeutic device into the body orifice, like during urethral catheterization.

It should be noted that this product may slow down sperm, so it may not be recommended in a couple trying to conceive. KY jelly does not contain spermicide, so it does not destroy sperm. Also, It is not a contraceptive, and does not prevent sexually transmitted diseases.

K-Y jelly and fertility: Some water-based lubricants like K-Y jelly may decrease sperm motility significantly. Hence, they are not good for a couple intending to conceive, as it may decrease the chances of pregnancy.

KY jelly vs Lidocaine Jelly

Both lidocaine jelly and K-Y jelly are used to lubricate tracheal tubes during tracheal intubation for general anesthesia. In a study, it was found that adverse effects such as postoperative sore throat, hoarseness, and cough after this procedure may be lesser with KY jelly than lidocaine jelly.

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Both of them are used in standard urogynecologic exam. The use depends on the preference of the operator. The water based lubricant or 2% lidocaine gel is used to ease the passage of the device into the urethra to minimize discomfort, and pain.

There are conflicting reports as regards to the advantage of lidocaine jelly over KY gel in reducing pain during urethral catheterization for bladder dysfunction.

Ingredients in K-Y Jelly

Different K-Y jelly formulations has different composition. It may contain ingredients such as:

  • Water as a diluent,
  • Hydroxyethylcellulose as a thickening agent,
  • Propylene glycol, as a humectant (retain moisture)
  • Chlorhexidine gluconate, as a preservative
  • Benzoic acid, as a preservative (prevent bacterial spoilage)
  • Carbomer, as a thickener, emulsifier
  • D-Gluconic Acid, Compd. With N1,N14-Bis(4-Chlorophenyl)-3,12-Diimino-2,4,11,13 Tetraazatetradecanediimidamide (2:1) as a preservative.
  • Gluconolactone as a complexing/sequestering agent (binds hard water and other minerals)
  • Methylparaben as a preservative, and
  • Sodium hydroxide to adjust the pH (improve stability)

Uses of K-Y Jelly

  • It is compactible with the latex and polyisoprene condom, diaphragms and prevent friction during intimacy.
  • Helps to prevent vaginal dryness by providing moisture.
  • To lubricate in laryngeal intubation during general anesthesia, even for infants
  • May be used as a lubricant during prostate, gynecological and surgical examinations, including cystoscopies.
  • Alternative to conventional ultrasound coupling gel
  • May be used by dentists to cover a composite restoration when light curing, thereby preventing the oxygen inhibition layer that discolors restorations.
  • According to a study, K-Y jelly may be a cheaper alternative or adjunct to sodium hyaluronate for intraocular use as gonioscopy fluid. It may be used in diagnostic contact lens examinations, and for laser trabeculotomies and photocoagulation with the appropriate contact lens. However, more studies are needed to ascertain the safety.
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Consideration while using KY Jelly

  • Discontinue use if irritation occurs after application. Methylparaben in the jelly can cause irritation.
  • Ingredients in the jelly such as glycerol may trigger yeast infection in some women.
  • It is not advisable to reuse the lubricating jelly as infection, adverse reaction and cross-contamination may occur.
  • Some people may react, or experience sensitivity, to the ingredients in the jelly. Discontinue in such cases.
  • Do not use past the expiry date.
  • Do not use if the seal under the cap is broken.
  • Keep out of the reach of children.

Ask your doctor before using KY jelly if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, have an allergy to the jelly, have a sexually transmitted infection, have cuts, irritation, sores, or wounds in your genital area where you apply the jelly.

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