Can You Use Ultrasound Gel As Lube Or For Anal Sex?

Ultrasound gel can be used safely as lube for vaginal and anal sex — but not for oral sex. However, it’s likely not going to feel as good as store-bought lube.
Photograph Of Ultrasound Gel Bottle On White Tabletop With Out Of Focus Bedding In The Distant Background
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Updated:July 2023

Yes, you can safely use ultrasound gel as lube for vaginal sex, but it’s not a great choice for anal sex and should never be used for oral sex.

Here’s why:

  • Ultrasound gel is primarily made from water and propylene glycol — both ingredients are commonly found in store-bought personal lubricants.
  • Ultrasound gel is intended for topical use over the skin and internal use during transvaginal ultrasounds.
  • Although it’s used on pregnant women, ultrasound gel may not be fertility friendly if you’re trying to conceive; some ingredients may hinder sperm motility.
  • Additionally, ultrasound gel is safe for anal use but may not provide enough slickness and glide during anal sex.
  • Ultrasound gel isn’t meant to be swallowed and depending on the formula, may lead to digestive issues or other complications if ingested orally.

Although ultrasound gel is a safe lubricant alternative – though far thicker and more sticky compared to store-bought lubricants — it might not make for the most pleasant lube experience.

Things To Know
In this article, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about using ultrasound gel as a personal lubricant, including:

Can You Use Ultrasound Gel As Lube?

While it certainly won’t be as comfortable as using regular lubricant, ultrasound gel can be used as both vaginal and anal lube.

Here’s what you need to know about using ultrasound gel as a lube:

  • Ultrasound gel is generally made from water and propylene glycol. Both ingredients are commonly found in store-bought personal lubricants.
  • Ultrasound gel is intended for topical and internal use; it may be applied over the skin during external ultrasounds or to wands that are inserted during transvaginal ultrasounds.
  • Although safe for internal vaginal use, it may not be fertility-friendly if you’re trying to conceive because some ingredients can hinder sperm motility.
  • Although it’s safe for anal use, ultrasound gel’s thick, sticky texture may not provide enough slip during anal sex.
  • It isn’t meant to be ingested — depending on the formula, it may cause stomach upset or digestive issues, or other, more serious complications.
  • Ultrasound gel is sticky and feels very different compared to conventional lubricant.
  • Being water-based, it won’t degrade condoms or diaphragms of any material and it’s safe for use with any sex toy material.

Ultrasound gel is meant to stay put and not run easily — therefore, it’s sticky and rather thick.

Sex lube, on the other hand, is meant for slippery penetration so its texture is noticeably thinner in comparison.

If you’ve ever received an ultrasound yourself, you can attest to the odd texture and feel of the stuff.

While ultrasound gel is typically used topically over the skin, applied using an ultrasound wand, there are times when your doctor may use it internally — such as during a transvaginal ultrasound.

It is a water-based product and perfectly safe to use internally in this manner.

Additionally, it’s safe for use with any pregnancy or STI barriers and won’t degrade any sex toy materials, either.

That said, you might not enjoy the texture.

If this is the case, a water-based lubricant may be a better choice.

Can You Use Ultrasound Gel As Vaginal Lube?

Yes, you can use ultrasound gel as a vaginal lubricant if you’re not bothered by the thick texture.

Ultrasound gel is regularly used as a vaginal lubricant in doctor’s offices.

If you’ve ever had a transvaginal pelvic ultrasound, then you’ll be familiar with how your doctor applies the gel to the transducer before it’s inserted vaginally.

For this reason, ultrasound gel is a safe vaginal lube alternative — if you can get past its thick, sticky consistency.

Being water-based, it won’t degrade STI or pregnancy barriers and it’s safe to use with any type of sex toy, as well.

Can You Use Ultrasound Gel As Anal Lube?

You can technically use ultrasound gel as anal lube — it is safe for anal use — but it likely won’t reduce friction or provide enough comfort during penetration and it may not have an anal-safe pH.

Ultrasound gel is often used for performing anal ultrasounds.

Just as with transvaginal ultrasound, the gel is applied to a transducer before being inserted into the anus to act as a lubricant.

Ultrasound gel can be used as an anal lube and is compatible with all condom types and sex toy materials, but it will not feel nearly as good as a properly formulated anal lube.

What Is Ultrasound Gel Made From And Is It Safe?

Ultrasound gel is made from water and propylene glycol and is completely safe when used in the manner it was intended for.

Propylene glycol is a synthetic liquid substance that essentially makes water thicker in consistency.

Dr. Susan Milstein, a human sexuality health educator on our medical review board said that although propylene glycol is used in a variety of applications, it is considered a safe ingredient in ultrasound gel — and lube.

“If propylene glycol sounds like something you’d find in the garage, you’re right,” she said. “That’s because it’s used in antifreeze. But the FDA says that it’s generally safeand is used as a food additive or in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and flavorings.

In the case of ultrasound gel, the propylene glycol makes it really thick so the solution won’t run when applied to the transducer used during its namesake medical procedure.

Propylene glycol is commonly found in personal lubricants, food products, and cosmetics and is generally recognized as ​​safe by the Food and Drug Administration.

  • Ultrasound Gel Vs. Electrode Gel

Also known as ultrasound conductive gel, electrode gel differs in its purpose compared to ultrasound gel.

Electrode gel is used for electro-medical procedures including defibrillation, nerve conduction studies, psychiatric electrotherapy, electroencephalogram (EEG), and other diagnostic tests that require electrical conduction.

While ultrasound gel is designed to conduct sound waves, electrode gel conducts electricity while allowing electrodes to adhere to the skin.

Both ultrasound gels and electrode gels are hypoallergenic, salt-free, and water-based — and they are safe when used for their respective intended purposes.

What Are Better Lube Alternatives To Ultrasound Gel?

If you’re not quite sure if using ultrasound gel as lube is right for you, there are plenty of other options including:

Here’s a cheat sheet for selecting the best lube based on how you intend to use it:

Lube Type:
Oral Sex Yes Yes Not usually
Vaginal Sex ONLY if pH/Osmolality suitable Yes Yes
Anal Sex ONLY if pH/Osmolality suitable Yes Yes
Condom Types All All Polyurethane, nitrile and lambskin only
Sex Toy Types All All but silicone All but latex
Bath/Shower Use No Yes Yes
Does It Stain? No Yes Yes
Lube Type:
Oral Sex
Vaginal Sex
Anal Sex
Condom Types
Sex Toy Types
Bath/Shower Use
Does It Stain?

With so many lubes to choose from, it’s hard to know the right one to pick for yourself.

Take a look at our in-depth lube guide or try our lube quiz to find a lube that suits your preferences.

Let’s take a closer look at each type.

  • Water-Based Personal Lubricants

Water-based lube is the most versatile type because it is safe to use with all STI and pregnancy barriers, and sex toys.

Water-based lubes are water-soluble, making them a dream to clean up but they’re not so great for shower or bath sex since they rinse away easily.

On that note, water-based lubes are not the longest-lasting type of lube available, but as long as you don’t mind reapplying now and again, they’re a solid choice.

The best water-based personal lubricants we hand-picked are free from parabens, glycerin, and unnecessary additives.

  • Silicone-Based Personal Lubricants

Silicone-based lubes feel quite silky and luxurious compared to water-based lubes.

They’re a great waterproof lube option and also wonderful for anal sex and pegging.

While you can use silicone lubes with all condoms, you should not use them with silicone sex toys since they can degrade the material and cause damage to your toy.

You should also note that silicone lubes stain, so be sure to take precautions when using them on your favorite sheets.

If you’re interested in learning more, we researched and found the safest and the best silicone-based personal lubes on the market.

  • Oil-Based Personal Lubricants

Often derived from plants, oil-based lubes are body safe and waterproof.

People with sensitivities or allergies should note that oil-based lubes tend to use nut-based oils in their formulas.

If this is a concern, it’s always a good idea to double-check the ingredient list.

While oil-based lubes can be used with sex toys as long as they’re not made from latex, rubber, or jelly rubber, they are also not safe to pair with condoms made from latex or polyisoprene.

Finally, most oil-based lubes are too thick to be swallowed during oral sex and they may pose a choking hazard.

The best oil-based personal lubricants available are only a click away if you’re ready to explore them.

  • Natural And Organic Lubricants

Depending on the product, natural and organic lubes can be oil-based or water-based.

As always, before trying any kind of lubricant, it’s important to read the ingredients in case ingredients that you or your partner might be allergic to.

We found the best and safest natural and organic lubricants if you’re searching for one for yourself.

Are There Any Safe At-Home Lube Alternatives?

Maybe you’re thinking ultrasound gel’s not the right choice after all — and that’s understandable.

In a pinch, there are a few safe lube alternatives that can be found around the house:

While these alternatives are considered to be safe for most sexual situations, they are not necessarily compatible for all people or scenarios.

Do not use an oil-based lube with latex or polyisoprene condoms, diaphragms, or dental dams, because the oil will degrade their material rendering them ineffective.

It’s a good idea to patch test your lube alternative on an area of non-genital skin to monitor for any allergic reactions before using it as a personal lubricant.

Our Top Lube Recommendations

After researching hundreds of personal lubricants — and personally testing dozens of them ourselves — we have found the very best lubes of each type, vetted by our team and recommended for their safety and performance.

Bottom Line:

Ultrasound gel can be used as lube for vaginal sex and even anal sex if it’s comfortable enough, but it’s likely not going to feel as good as store-bought lube.

If you happen to have some ultrasound gel lying around and are curious about trying it as a sex lube, go ahead — but prepare yourself for a sticky sex session.

Take a look at our Everything Lube guide or take our lube quiz if you’re not sure which type of personal lubricant will suit your needs.

Editor’s Note: This article is part of our Lube Alternatives and Everything Lube hubs, in-depth and evolving resources that comprehensively explore all aspects of personal lubricants from the different types and how to use them, to ingredients and safety — created to help you achieve the sexual pleasure you deserve.

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