Is It Safe to Use Coconut Oil as Lube? Ob-Gyns Explain
Slick and natural, coconut oil is becoming a go-to sexual lubricant. Here's what you need to know before you try it.
Coconut oil makes for a solid cooking oil, facial moisturizer, and makeup remover. But this popular oil is earning a rep for a totally different reason: as a sexual lubricant. Coconut oil lube can supposedly enhance sensation, help couples last longer, and make sex feel more pleasurable overall.
On one hand, it makes sense to bring coconut oil into the bedroom. It's slick and slippery, and the fact that it's a natural product is very appealing. But is coconut oil a safe lubricant for your vagina, and are there any drawbacks? Before pouring some in your hand and hitting the sheets, read up on the facts, explained to us by women's health specialists.
Is coconut oil safe?
On the whole, yes. “Coconut oil is a natural, preservative-free, and cost-friendly lubricant,” Sherry Ross, MD, a women's health physician in Santa Monica, California, and author of She-ology, tells Health. Other doctors we spoke to endorsed it as safe as well and explained a bit more about how it is made.
“Coconut oil is 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, tells Health.
Benefits of using coconut oil as lube
As Dr. Landry says, coconut oil is moisturizing. That's something Florida-based ob-gyn Jennifer Landa, MD, chief medical officer at BodyLogicMD, previously pointed out to Health. “One of my favorite natural lubricants is extra virgin coconut oil," she said. "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 says that lt's thicker and longer-lasting compared to silicone- and water-based artificial lubricants. At the same time, it won’t get clumpy, as other lubricants can, she says.
Any natural, plant-based oil can be used safely as a lubricant, yet "some of these oil-based lubes can be messier, harder to wash off, and stain clothing and sheets,” Dr. Ross believes, adding that coconut oil is less messy than, say, olive oil. (Olive oil was the sexual lubricant of choice for ancient Greeks and Romans, she says.)
Downsides of using coconut oil as lube
First, and this is important, coconut oil lube shouldn't be used with latex condoms. Like all oil-based lubricants artificial or natural, the oil in coconut oil can potentially degrade the latex in your partner's condom—possibly putting you at risk of a sexually transmitted infection or pregnancy.
“Coconut oil cannot be used with latex condoms because it can break down the latex and cause the condom to break," states Dr. Landry. Only water- and silicone-based lubricants can be used with latex condoms without risking breakage, she says. The only time it's okay to use coconut oil with a condom is if the condom is made from polyurethane, clarifies Dr. Ross, which won’t degrade.
Coconut oil as a lubricant isn't necessarily a good idea if you're prone to vaginal infections, such as yeast infections. It's not exactly clear why some women 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,” says Dr. Landry.
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What kind of coconut oil should I use?
“Partially hydrogenated and refined coconut oil contain additives that can be irritating or even leave the skin dryer than before,” explains Dr. Landry. So “stick to virgin, unrefined 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."
Adds Dr. Ross: “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."
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 lube, be sure to only use a small amount," says Dr. Landry. "An excess buildup of oil in the vagina can be a breeding ground for unwanted bacteria or yeast." Definitely not something you want to happen after a slippery, super pleasurable roll in the hay.