KY Jelly Vs Aquagel – Which Gel is best?
Hot on the tails of our last review – ‘The LubeTube‘ – We examine just what are the best lubrication gels.
When it comes to transsexual dilation there are two major brands favoured by the NHS and its surgeons.
‘Aquagel’ is often given to patients in their prescription, but few are aware that there are differences in the products available.
In this test we have closely examined the market leaders which are KY Jelly and Aquagel – as a ‘control’ a lube named SYLK.
We will go through the products step by step, compare and contrast the consistency, the aroma, the sensation, and take photos and videos so you can make the best decision when it comes to deciding what is best for you.
It is interesting that the NHS (UK National Health Service – Free at the point of delivery) tend to bounce between two products. ‘Aquagel’ tends to be the first gel the transsexual patient is offered upon their first dilation after vaginoplasty. Usually in convenient tear strip sachets it is a one hit product placed on the tip of the dilator and the patients tend to stick with (no pun intended) what they know and continue to use it from there on by requesting it as their repeat prescription in either a 42g or 82g tube.
This is where there is value in the NHS recommendations, as the manufacturers will no doubt find it very lucrative for a hospital to set a patient on the path of using their products.
(Above) A typical ‘Kit’ supplied by the NHS post op – this was image was shot at Charing Cross Hospital by the author of this article. Notice the Aquagel sachets.
CASE STUDY – Patient X, had her first dilation with Aquagel, she continued to use that gel and set up a repeat prescription for tubes of it. However, they did find that on some occasions the dilator would actually get stuck, requiring wiggling and twisting (and creating some distress) to release the vacuum it caused. Sometime later they spoke to the Consultant surgeon who had carried out their genital surgery, the first thing he said was, do you use a lubricant like KY? They moved on to KY. However, after a few months healing their GP prescribed them Aquagel once more and it has been fine ever since!
All Gels are not the same!
There is an assumption that KY and Aquagel are the same. Well as we will show they are not the same.
A Closer Look!
The gel was piped exactly the same way in exactly the same environment on a cold surface to prevent ‘melting’ and losing its shape.
What is immediately apparent is the Aquagel is quite a lot thicker than KY – this is an illusion actually as you would assume this would therefore be more sticky – it is not. Our ‘control’ product, ‘SYLK’ sits in the middle with KY Jelly being the smoothest and most water-like – again this is an illusion as the more water-like KY is actually the most tacky it being a bit heavier maybe the reason for it’s collapse here when compared to the Aquagel above. Lastly the SYLK that appears the most dense in the video below will show it is in fact the most watery – and astonishingly so!
We have made a short video demonstrating the consistency below. In this we have used a black plastic spatula (for contrast) on a mirror (cold temperature) and swirled the substance to see how easily it breaks down when manipulated.
Click here to view the Youtube clip.
In this video we agitate the product in a controlled way to see what happens – they all behave differently.
In this video we can see how the Aquagel holds its shape well yet is not sticky – they truly are making water stand up.
However, the KY Jelly still leaves a little peak after agitation adhering to the spatula as it is removed, but quickly resettles, and the SYLK is very watery indeed in this sample.
The enigma here is the KY, as it initially looks like it has melted down yet as soon as we agitate it with the spatula it reforms to the same consistency as Aquagel and then smooths out again almost as quick. Its ‘tacky’ properties account for this. If dilating with KY your dilator can therefore be coated and smooth, yet tacky enough not to dissipate. After 30 mins dilating as you pull to remove the dilator the KY will then be recalled into action in the same way as shown in the video. So less likely to require an additional coating to the dilator. The Aquagel thins out in the vagina between the dilator and the wall and this maybe better once healed. You do not want something so thick and sticky (like Vaseline) that will not douche away easily afterwards. Therefore KY just beats Aquagel as a gel to use just after surgery in this test.
Body heat is a very important factor so the melting point may change the consistency.
Aquagel – holds together very well and I suspect ideal for medical examinations on surgical latex gloves as it will not slip of gloves before penetration. A medical examination of the vagina or a prostate exam with a medical doctor may only take a moment so AG is likely to be used by healthcare professionals. So they tend to prescribe based on their own experiences. This is way to close to call. It is something you may have to try to see if you prefer it. Most people would not be able to tell the difference.
KY Jelly – is more ‘gloopy’ (heavier), but adheres well to the medical instruments. This is a better bet for a dilator in the early days after surgery as dilators are left in situ for maybe up to 1 hour before being removed. This is why it is so important that the gel not be absorbed into the skin too readily as this is what can create a vacuum. Once healed Aquagel is better especially for sexual intercourse as it is finer and of course less messy!
SYLK (Control) – has a shampoo consistency and turns to water more quickly than those above.
Aquagel – Almost odorless although some say it is slightly sweet smelling.
KY Jelly – Almost Odorless.
SYLK (Control) – Very slight citrus Odor.
This is the key issue, how does it feel? How does it slide? Is it sticky? Is is watery?
There are some noticeable differences in this section.
Aquagel – says what it is – ‘aqua’gel. It feels watery between the fingers. Not very ‘sticky’ at all.
KY Jelly – the ‘stickiest’ of the three products. It is noticeably tacky between the fingers.
SYLK (Control) – This falls slap bang between the two.
This is very interesting as there is some considerable difference between these products. The price was for the larger 82g, as larger tubes are favoured for dilation as it means you have plenty to hand and need to get up less if you run out.
Aquagel – for an 82g depending on where you buy it, hovers around the £6 pound mark. But this is more readily available on NHS prescriptions for free to many on a low income!
KY Jelly – being better priced seems to make it more popular. It comes in at around £4 a tube. Less available on prescription.
SYLK (Control) – This is very expensive compared to the other two brands, I have seen it at around £8 and for half the size of the others! At only 40g pots.
In Use (dilating)
This is based only on personal opinions and the view is that for dilation the KY Jelly’s slightly stickier consistency coats the vaginal walls longer, especially when withdrawing the dilator as it remains behind for the next one. You therefore use less on the next size up. Followed by SYLK, as again the slightly sticky consistency helps. In last place is the Aquagel. But Aquagel is a better bet as time goes on. After 6 months post op Aquagel steps into the lead!
Aquagel seems to cause more vacuum suction problems on new trans vaginas as in the early stages you are dilating to push the muscle walls apart and Aquagel is so fine it needs reapplication, and its thin watery consistency dissipates it more quickly. Most of the product tends to be pushed off upon entry and there is far more left on the vulva, towel and hands when compared to the KY – unless the gel is directly injected into the vagina – see this article for more on that. But the smooth dilator with a coating of KY wiped over it with the little finger followed by a dot on the end is enough to slowly enter the dilator with maybe one withdrawal for a dot more half way in. Ky’s adhesive qualities also stick to the dilator mean more makes it to the goal rather than the towel you are sitting on. Thus KY is very economical for those unable to get free prescriptions (or reduced cost repeat prescriptions).
Transsexual vaginas self-lubricate in as far as skin has glands in it. There is no cervix or ‘biological’ female lubrication. But skin moisture unless very sweaty is unlikely to lubricate to the level a lube can. After dilation for some it is preferable that the vagina is not bone dry or gel free, especially if they are going out and may have intercourse. They may want something that sticks around – just incase they get ‘lucky’ rather than fumbling with tubes of gel in the throws of passion. It can make the next douche a little bit easier if a little bit of gel residue remains as douches are hard tipped plastic and can dig the labia upon entry causing pain. Aquagel washes away very easily indeed and is light anfd feels far more natural. Followed by SYLK and KY (remains in situ), even in a test under flowing water on glass. The Aquagel dissolved at almost the same time as SYLK, and then about a minute later the KY broke down, but even then there was still a some there.
This was a a very interesting experiment, and something you may want to try for yourself.
All the products are ‘good’ there is nothing ‘wrong”with any of them, so if you use Aquagel do not panic and stop using it, its fine!
However, there are some clear advantages in some over others.
In the world of early (up to 6 months after surgery) transsexual vaginal dilation, here there was one clear winner and it was KY Jelly. Its price point is great value, its residual ‘stickiness’ yet still being water-soluble makes this a great dilation companion. In the video and the photos above you can see how it is smooth and ‘coats’ and pools. Without being too crude (as we try to be family friendly) it is very similar to semen and this is perhaps why it works so well, I would challenge anybody to be blindfold with KY and be able to tell the difference between the fingers. As it is by far the most natural looking and feeling (tacky) gel (jel) currently available and you use a lot less of it than the others.
Aquagel is probably a better product after 6 months and for the rest of your life because it is delicate and natural feeling moisture especially for sexual intercourse. It is easier to clean away you could apply a little on a dilator before going out and it will moisturise ready for whatever may happen.
You need to douche and dilate 3 times a day after GRS. I think for this period the KY is a better bet until you have healed and no longer bleeding. After many months you may want to dilate only once a week. At this point the shift to Aquajel Jelly is a no-brainer, and for sex Aquagel is definitely the best bet! SYLK is just too expensive for not that much more.
KY Jelly – 5/5 TZ Stars – Excellent!
Its consistency, value for money and availability makes this a ‘clear’ winner purely on price – pun intended! If you are in the early days post operative this is probably the best product you will find to carry with you (a small tube) either in your pocket or handbag.
Aquagel – 4/5 TZ Stars – Good.
A great gel for those ho have healed as its very easy to douche away and less messy for daily life on the go! But not so good for those who have just had surgery. The reason for 4 stars is purely the price!
SYLK – 3/5 TZ Stars – Average.
SYLK is a good product only let down by the price – it loses one star for it being almost twice the price of the others, yet half the quantity when compared to KY. However, if you are wealthy then this is a direct go between the other two products in this test! Although its watery behaviour maybe best suited to ‘sexual intimacy’ rather than medicine.
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