Is It Safe To Use Coconut Oil as Lube?

Some are using coconut oil as a sexual lubricant. Here's what you need to know before you try it.

Coconut oil has many uses—as cooking oil, facial moisturizer, and makeup remover. But this popular oil is earning a rep for a different reason: as a sexual lubricant.

According to a 2022 review published in the journal Sexual and Reproductive Health Matters, using lube during sex can enhance the sexual experience, creating more pleasure overall. Using the right lubrication during sex can also prevent condom breakage.

Not all lubes are created equal, though. Vaginas have a very delicate balance of bacteria. When it's disrupted, an infection can ensue. Research, such as a 2022 study published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases, suggests that some lubes—including over-the-counter (OTC) commercial ones you can buy at your local pharmacy—can upset the pH balance in the vagina, creating an environment ripe for infection.

But what about coconut oil? Can it be used for lubrication? On one hand, it makes sense to bring coconut oil into the bedroom. It's slick, and because it's a natural product, it's appealing. But is coconut oil a safe lubricant for your vagina—and are there any drawbacks?

While there are no scientific studies examining how safe and effective coconut oil is as a personal lubricant, Health asked medical experts for some answers. Before grabbing a handful of coconut oil and having sex, read up on the facts, pros, and cons so you can make an informed decision.

Types of Coconut Oil

If you've ever used coconut oil for cooking, you've probably used the oil that's solid at room temperature. This is the form you'll most commonly find coconut oil in. There are two main forms of this coconut oil: unrefined and refined.

Unrefined

According to a 2021 study published in the journal Bioprocess and Biosystems Engineering, unrefined coconut oil is simply the oil from coconuts that has had no further processing other than what is done to extract the oil. The oil is pressed out of the meat of the coconuts and can be wet or dry pressed. Some will be labeled "cold pressed," which means that no heat was used in the extraction process. Unrefined coconut oil will have a distinctive coconut smell and taste to it.

Refined

Refined coconut oil is more processed, as certain processes are used to remove some of the naturally-occurring components in the oil. This results in a "cleaner" oil with no or barely noticeable coconut flavor or scent. It also results in an oil with a higher smoke point than unrefined coconut oil. Between this and the neutral scent and flavor, it makes for a great cooking and baking oil.

Because most of the oil in coconut oil is saturated, both unrefined and refined coconut oils are solid at room temperature, similar to the way butter is solid at room temp.

Then there's fractionated coconut oil, which is liquid at room temperature. Fractionated coconut oil comes from regular, solid-at-room-temp coconut oil that has been heated to a certain temp and cooled. This process is called fractionation. When this is done, the solid fats separate from the liquid ones. After the solid components are removed, you're left with silky liquid coconut oil that is tasteless and odorless.

Is Coconut Oil Safe To Use as a Lube?

On the whole, yes, coconut oil is safe to use as a sexual lubricant. "Coconut oil is a natural, preservative-free, and cost-friendly lubricant," said Sherry Ross, MD, a women's health physician in Santa Monica, California, and author of She-ology.

"Coconut oil is an edible oil extracted from the meat of mature coconuts [and] has many good qualities. It is very moisturizing, and it has natural antimicrobial and antifungal properties," Nita Landry, MD, an ob-gyn in Los Angeles and physician on the television show The Doctors, told Health.

Benefits of Using Coconut Oil as Lube

As Dr. Landry said, coconut oil is moisturizing. That's something Florida-based ob-gyn Jennifer Landa, MD, chief medical officer at BodyLogicMD, pointed out to Health. "One of my favorite natural lubricants is extra virgin coconut oil," said Dr. Landa. "It is moisturizing and lubricating and doesn't ball up like a lot of lubes you can buy."

Coconut oil's consistency is also a draw. Dr. Ross said that it's thicker and longer-lasting compared to silicone- and water-based artificial lubricants. At the same time, it won't get clumpy like other lubricants can added Dr. Ross.

Downsides of Using Coconut Oil as Lube

There are reasons not to use coconut oil as lube.

Coconut Oil Can Degrade Latex Condoms

While lubes are often used with condoms, coconut oil should not be used with latex condoms. Like all oil-based lubricants—artificial or natural—coconut oil can potentially degrade the latex in the condom.

"Coconut oil cannot be used with latex condoms because it can break down the latex and cause the condom to break," explained Dr. Landry. Only water- and silicone-based lubricants can be used with latex condoms without risking breakage, said Dr. Landry. The only time it's okay to use coconut oil with a condom is if the condom is made from polyurethane, which won't degrade, clarified Dr. Ross.

Coconut Oil Can Possibly Cause Infection

Coconut oil as a lubricant also isn't a good idea if you're prone to vaginal infections, such as yeast infections. It's not exactly clear why some people are more infection-prone, but if you are, you may want to play it safe. "Because coconut oil is antibacterial and antifungal, it has the potential to disrupt the pH balance in your vagina and cause a yeast infection," warned Dr. Landry.

And while most natural, plant-based oils can be used safely as a lubricant, "some of these oil-based lubes can be messier, harder to wash off, and stain clothing and sheets," stated Dr. Ross. Ironically, however, according to the 2021 review in Bioprocess and Biosystems Engineering, when mixed with an equal amount of baking soda, coconut oil can be used as a stain remover (just apply to the stain, let sit for five minutes, and wipe away).

Any time you're applying a product to your skin, whether it's all-natural or not, there is a chance of having a sensitivity to it—or in some cases, an allergic reaction. According to research published in 2021 in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, this can also be the case with coconut. So before slathering it into your vagina, test it out by applying a small amount of coconut oil to your inner forearm and wait a few minutes to see if there's any reaction.

What Kind of Coconut Oil Should I Use?

"Partially hydrogenated and [some] refined coconut oils contain additives that can be irritating or even leave the skin dryer than before," explained Dr. Landry. So "stick to virgin, unrefined, [cold pressed] coconut oil when it comes to lube as well as any other use. This oil is extracted from the fruit of fresh coconuts without using high temperatures or chemicals."

For coconut oil in solid form, make sure to use a clean spoon to scoop it out; sticking dirty hands into the oil might increase the chances of turning the jar of coconut oil into a bacterial or yeasty petri dish.

It also helps if you've allowed the oil to soften at room temp before applying it to the vagina. If it's too solid, allow it to warm up in your hands before applying it.

Whether you're using solid or fractionated coconut oil, Dr. Ross recommended checking the label. "You want to look for pure coconut oil that is natural, preservative-free, and does not contain any fragrances. Look at the ingredient list on the bottle to make sure the only item listed is coconut oil."

Also, go easy on how much coconut oil you use during a sex session. While in general, it makes for a safe motion lotion, too much is not necessarily a good thing for your vagina. "If you are going to try coconut oil [as a] lube, be sure to only use a small amount," said Dr. Landry. "An excess buildup of oil in the vagina can be a breeding ground for unwanted bacteria or yeast."

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