We love coconut oil for its ability to silence squeaky hinges and give us lustrous locks, not to mention how delicious it is in cooking (hello, decadent chocolate tart). But what about using this natural ingredient...down there? We tapped Mary Jane Minkin, OB/GYN with Yale School of Medicine for her expert advice about all things lubrication, including whether or not it’s a good idea to use coconut oil as lube.
First up, let’s talk lube
Newsflash: Investing in some quality lube can work wonders for your sex life. “Unfortunately, vaginal dryness is a common problem,” Minkin tells us. In fact, according to the charity Women’s Health Concern, around 17 percent of women aged 18 to 50 experience problems with vaginal dryness during sex. And after menopause, it affects over half of post-menopausal women aged between 51 and 60. “Women after menopause often experience dryness because their estrogen levels are very low, and estrogen is responsible for keeping the vagina moist,” explains Minkin. And moms who are breastfeeding also tend to have low levels of estrogen, since one of the hormones responsible for stimulating the breast also suppresses estrogen production. Those on certain low dose estrogen birth control pills are another group of women who may also experience vaginal dryness.
Other factors that may cause someone to need a little extra lubrication? Insufficient foreplay or psychological reasons such as stress. (If foreplay is an issue, check out this guide to all 15 erogenous zones.) In fact, Minkin tells us that women who are trying to get pregnant may experience dryness since they have to have sex at a certain time to maximize their chances of conception—and sex on demand to a clock is not very romantic. In other words: anybody can experience dryness down there. And it doesn’t just affect women between the sheets.
“It can present with pain with intercourse; but dryness can be uncomfortable with activities of daily living, like running or biking or even riding a horse,” says Minkin. “Vaginal dryness is unfortunately common—but that doesn't mean you need to put up with it!” Enter lube.
Lube can help vaginal dryness by decreasing friction in your genitals. Need further convincing? According to health and sexuality writer August McLaughlin, it’s the most underrated sex item. “Lube is spectacular. It minimizes friction, preventing potential discomfort, and adds sleek, slippery fun to so many sexual activities. In some cases, it’s darn near necessary—such as during anal sex,” she writes in her book, Girl Boner: The Good Girl’s Guide to Sexual Empowerment.
But lube isn’t the only thing that can help make sexy time more enjoyable. There also are products that you can put in the vagina which last for several days, Minkin tells us. “These are referred to as longer acting moisturizers, and many women will use the moisturizer two to three times a week on an ongoing basis, and then also use a lubricant at the time of sex.” Minkin recommends Replens, a long-acting vaginal moisturizer available over the counter that is inserted vaginally two to three times a week. (FYI: Lubricant—different from moisturizer—should be applied to the area around the vulva and vagina just before intercourse takes place.)
Got it. So what’s the deal with all natural lubes?
From face creams to makeup, we’re pretty particular about what we put in our body. And while a lot of lubes in the drugstore aisle feature ingredients we can’t even pronounce, there are plenty of chemical-free alternatives. (Psst: Here are nine of our favorites.) Although, according to Minkin, the “all natural” label doesn’t really matter too much. “The major advantage of so-called ‘all natural lubes’ is primarily psychological—some women prefer to use a product without any additives.” Translation? Whether you get your lube from the pantry or the drugstore, both can do the job just fine.
And what about using coconut oil as lube?
Coconut oil is an edible oil that has been extracted from the meat of mature coconuts. Studies have shown that this tropical-smelling ingredient is ultra moisturizing (which is why you see this ingredient on so many beauty labels) and our friends at Healthline tell us that it also has natural antimicrobial and antifungal properties. Another bonus: It tastes really good.
“One of the major products that many women use [for lubrication] is coconut oil, which is fine as long as it works for you,” says Minkin. Meaning that coconut oil is likely safe to use as lubrication (although it’s worth noting that there haven’t been any scientific studies about its use as a lubricant), but there are a few things you should be aware of beforehand.
First, know that because coconut oil is, well, an oil, it won’t work well with latex condoms and can increase the risk of breakage. According to one study published in Contraception journal, exposing commercial latex condoms to mineral oil for just 60 seconds can decrease their efficacy by up to 90 percent. “You shouldn't rely on coconut oil if you are using it with a latex condom,” echoes Minkin. If you’re using condoms to protect yourself from pregnancy or STDs then you should opt for water or silicone-based lubes instead.
Here’s another potential issue: Some women find that coconut oils lead to yeast infections, Minkin tells us. While there are no studies proving that this is indeed the case, if you find that happening, try switching to a different product, she suggests.
And although rare, some people may also be allergic to coconut oil—both when ingested or applied topically. Symptoms of an allergic reaction to coconut oil can include skin reactions (like rash, hives or eczema), gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea or vomiting) and airway symptoms (such as wheezing or runny nose).
One more thing to consider before investing in that giant tub of coconut oil for the bedroom: It could stain your sheets.
Many women safely use coconut oil as a personal lubricant and rave about the results. There are, however, a few factors to consider before trying it, such as its incompatibility with condoms and whether it might cause an adverse reaction. But if you’re curious about whether that tub in the pantry can be used for something other than stir-fries and hair masks, well, go for it. (Maybe just keep the tub on the nightstand after use and not in the pantry.)
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Organic Fractionated Coconut Oil $13