It seems like everyone is using coconut oil these days, and not just for sauteing veggies. With seemingly limitless uses for health and beauty, what was once a humble pantry staple has become the latest all-purpose health food of the moment. But as with any explosive health and beauty trend, there comes a point when things can get taken a little too far. The recent media fixation has led many a blogger to recommend coconut oil as a personal lubricant, citing its edibility as the key factor in making it suitable for use on our most delicate tissues.
But can you use coconut oil as lube? Maybe the “if you can eat it, then you can use it as lube” argument doesn’t quite work — after all, you can eat Sriracha, and we don’t see anybody suggesting that as lube. But, coconut oil comes with a long list of impressive health benefits, and seems perfect for the job. Right?
We at Good Clean Love have spent a long time thinking about how to make the best natural lubricant we can, and despite the recent craze, we don’t make a coconut oil lubricant, and we don’t use coconut oil as lube ourselves. We’re going to give you four reasons why — but first let’s go over the things you do want in a natural lubricant so we can see how coconut oil measures up.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Natural Lubricant
People use an incredible range of substances as personal lubricants, and not just substances from the lube section at the drugstore. Can you use baby oil as lube? Can you use olive oil as lube? What about lotion? What are the rules? It may seem like anything goes, but in fact there are some important questions to ask when you’re looking for new things to use as lube.
Is it salt-balanced and pH-balanced?
We put this question first because a lot of women don’t know how important it is and they end up getting sick. Your vagina has a natural salt balance (osmolality) and pH balance. When these are where they should be, they help protect you against a variety of mishaps, like bacterial vaginosis (BV) and yeast infections. But when you put something with the wrong pH or salt balance into your vagina, you can disrupt your natural balance and lose those protections.
When you’re looking for a new lube, ask if its pH and osmolality match healthy vaginal conditions; if not, look elsewhere.
Is it antibacterial?
“Antibacterial” might sound great at first — who wants a vagina full of bacteria? Well ... it turns out you do. While it’s true that some bacteria cause disease, including BV, there are also good bacteria, called lactobacilli, that live in the vagina and protect you from those same diseases, as well as from yeast infections.
Unfortunately, an antibacterial kills all the bacteria, good and bad alike. That means you’re free of harmful bacteria for the moment, but you’ve also lost your natural defense, and now you’re vulnerable to yeast infections — and to BV the next time those bad bacteria show up. When you’re choosing what to use as lube, choose something that lets your good bacteria thrive.
Is it oil-based?
Sex-Ed 101: Most condoms are latex, and oil breaks down latex. If you’re using a condom and you don’t want it to break (hint: you don’t), don’t get oil-based lubricants anywhere near it; the same goes for latex toys. Look for a natural water-based lube or a silicone-based lube.
Is it safe on your skin?
Some substances just aren’t safe on human skin, period. They clog pores, they burn, they cause allergic reactions, you name it. And if something isn’t good for your skin in the first place, the last place you want it is in the extra-sensitive skin inside your vagina.
Is it safe for conception?
This one isn’t important for everyone, but if you’re TTC (“trying to conceive,” for those of you out of the fertility loop), or if you think you might be TTC one day, you should know that many personal lubricants dramatically decrease sperm motility, which makes it harder for you to get pregnant. That includes not only over-the-counter commercial lubes, which often include spermicidal ingredients, but also natural oils and even saliva.
So if you’re TTC and looking around for new things to use as lube, take care to find something that’s not going to keep you from having the family you want.
Is it easy to use?
Everything is better when it’s easy to use, but give this question extra thought for anything that’s going to come into play during sexy times. If you’ve ever been carried away by a romantic moment only to have the mood killed by a lube malfunction, we’re sure you’ll agree. Use a lube that doesn’t interrupt you, doesn’t break your concentration, and keeps the pleasure flowing effortlessly.
Is it tasty and edible?
Sure, maybe you won’t end up putting something lube-covered in your mouth during sex — but then again, maybe you will. Leave the option open by choosing a natural lube you don’t mind tasting.
How Does Coconut Oil as Lube Stack Up?
Now that we know what we’re looking for, let’s get back to our question: Can I use coconut oil as lube? Let’s look at our criteria one by one.
Salt-balanced and pH-balanced?
Some women worry that coconut oil doesn’t have the right pH and salt balance to make a safe natural lube. That’s the right thing to worry about, but the answers from a quick search can be misleading. In fact, the concepts of osmolality and pH only apply to solutions in water. Oils, including coconut oil, don’t have osmolality or pH at all; the concept simply doesn’t apply to them. It’s true that oils have something called “acidity,” but that works differently than the water-based pH that’s so important for women’s health.
So, while it wouldn’t be true to say coconut oil is pH-balanced or salt-balanced, using coconut oil as lubricant won’t do any harm to your natural balance.
This one is complicated. There are several studies showing that ingredients in coconut oil are antibacterial — but many of the same studies show that coconut oil itself is not antibacterial. What’s going on? Those antibacterial ingredients are definitely in the coconut oil, but it may be that they’re chemically bonded in a way that neutralizes their antibacterial properties, which means your healthy lactobacilli won’t mind at all if you put coconut oil in your vagina.
To avoid confusion, we should note that although coconut oil seems (for now) to be safe for bacteria, it does kill fungus, including Candida fungus responsible for yeast infections.
That doesn’t have anything to do with finding the best natural lube, but many women do use coconut oil for yeast infections, and if you’re one of them, we don’t want you to get the wrong idea. Summary: no, coconut oil is (probably) not antibacterial, and yes, it may be effective against yeast, which are not bacteria but fungi.
Ultimately, though, without more scientific studies it’s hard to be sure whether coconut oil in the vagina acts as an antibacterial or not. Since this is something we’d like to be sure of before we get too far down the road of coconut oil lube, we have some concerns here.
It sure is! Coconut oil — what gave it away? That means you need to keep coconut oil away from latex condoms and latex toys. If you use a latex condom during sex, even occasionally, keep the coconut oil in the kitchen and stick with a water-based lubricant — having the jar of oil by the bed might encourage its absent-minded use when the condom is on.
Safe for Conception?
Here again, nobody really knows. You’ll find a lot of bloggers who claim using coconut oil as lube is great for fertility, and just as many who claim it’s terrible for fertility — but as for actual science, we haven’t seen any yet. However, since the science we have shows that other natural oils are not safe for conception, we’d think twice about using coconut oil for lube if you’re trying to get pregnant.
Safe on your skin?
Most people have no problem with coconut oil on their skin, but a few do have reactions. For some people, coconut oil is comedogenic — which means it can clog your pores, causing bumps and irritation to the skin that comes into contact with the oil. Others might have a variety of allergic reactions, although not as commonly as with other nut oils.
Fortunately, it’s easy to test yourself: Before you use coconut oil as lubricant, just rub a little on your skin and see what happens over the next few days. If it looks like the coast is clear, try putting a little coconut oil on your vagina to make absolutely sure. The first time you reach for your coconut oil during sex, you don’t want any nasty surprises!
|Verdict: Varies by individual
Easy to Use?
Coconut oil isn’t the worst here ... but it could be better. First you need to make sure it’s liquid, which you can do by keeping it somewhere warm or rubbing it between your hands — but wouldn’t it be nicer to use something you didn’t have to worry about? Then, once you get going, coconut oil is super slippery but not very viscous, which means it tends to fall off your skin and get on your sheets, which it stains. Again, not the end of the world, but not ideal. And since there are so many personal lubricants out there that are easy to use, it’s hard to give our hypothetical coconut oil lubricant a pass.
Tasty and edible?
Yep. It’s coconut oil.
Our Conclusion: 4 Reasons NOT To Use Coconut Oil as Lube
We’re sympathetic. Lots of us here at Good Clean Love like coconut oil — it’s a great high-heat cooking oil and also a gentle moisturizer that makes you smell like a macaroon. We eat virgin, unrefined coconut oil straight from the jar and put it on chapped lips. In fact, we even used to offer a coconut oil personal lubricant on this website. But after careful thought, we no longer recommend coconut oil as lube. There are arguments on both sides, but here are the four important points for us.
1. Coconut oil has all the downsides of other oil-based lubricants.
Since coconut oil is (obviously) an oil, it has the same problems as any other oil-based lubricant. For one, coconut oil is not compatible with latex, which means you can’t use it with traditional condoms and certain sex toys. Bid farewell to your pocket rocket if you plan on using coconut oil as a lube! And like any oil, coconut oil will inevitably leave you with an oily coating that’s hard for our water-based human tissue to break down. So whether or not you’re worried about coconut oil and condoms, water-based lubes are always a safer choice.
2. Coconut oil is not user-friendly.
Before you can use coconut oil for sex, you have to get it out of the jar. Ever try removing coconut oil from the jar on a cold winter day? It’s not fun — and we have several bent spoons to prove it. Now imagine that whole process getting in between you and your partner. Need we say more?
3. Coconut oil can cause allergic reactions.
Here again, a little awkwardness that might not bother you anywhere else becomes a real problem when it comes to sex. Because while you can easily test to see if you are allergic to coconut oil in your vagina, what happens when you’re dating someone new? “Hey, I’m really looking forward to this weekend. Could you smear this coconut oil on your penis and tell me if you get a rash? See you then!” On the other hand, if you break out the coconut oil lube without testing, you risk an unpleasant emergency exactly when you want it least.
4. Nobody knows whether coconut oil is actually safe.
Just because it’s safe (and delicious) to eat and cook with does not mean that it’s safe to use on your vaginal tissue. You might have noticed a few question marks in our rundown above, and a few more might occur to you.
- Is coconut oil really safe for your vaginal flora?
- Are there other biochemical interactions that we don’t know about yet?
- Does any kind of oil really belong in your vagina?
It’s a delicate ecosystem in there, and to make things even more complicated, no two women are the same; because we all have different flora and a different balance, what’s healthy for one woman might invite infections for another.
Ultimately, what makes us hesitate is that there have been no scientific studies looking at the use of coconut oil as a personal lubricant, which means there is still a lot we don’t know about its effects. And edibility alone is not a determining factor in whether a substance is safe to use as a lubricant.
Safer Alternatives to Using Coconut Oil as Lube
When it comes down to it, there’s one key reason not to use coconut oil for lube: There are just better choices. Maybe coconut oil makes a safe lube, if you’re not using latex, if you and your partner aren’t allergic, if you don’t mind adapting your sex life to make it convenient ... but there are other lubes that we know are safe, lubes that love latex, that won’t bother anyone’s allergies, and that are ready to go straight out of the box. And fortunately, Good Clean Love has been perfecting those other natural lubes since 2003.
What we recommend instead of coconut oil is a high-quality, water-based organic lubricant. We aren’t the only people in the world who make such products, but we do happen to think that ours are the best. Because our organic lubes are water-based, they go great with latex, and they’re all easy to use and safe to ingest. They’re free of major allergens, as well as from the petrochemicals, parabens, and glycerin that you find in so many other personal lubricants. They’re pH-balanced and salt-balanced, and they’ll play nice with your healthy vaginal flora.
For use during everyday intimacy, we recommend our Almost Naked Organic Personal Lubricant. This is our flagship product, aloe-based, body-safe — and, because we care as much as you do about the earth, carbon-neutral. If you just have a more sensitive vaginal ecosystem, we suggest BioNude Ultra Sensitive Personal Lubricant, which is designed to mimic natural feminine moisture. Finally, if lube is secondary and you’re really considering coconut oil for vaginal dryness, you should know about Restore Moisturizing Vaginal Gel, which is both a personal lubricant and a vaginal moisturizer that keeps you fresh and balanced all day long.
Can you use coconut oil for lube? Sure you can. Is it the best choice? Probably not. Maybe you’re not using latex, nobody’s allergic, and you don’t mind the mess — but even then, until we have some good scientific studies, using coconut oil as lube is a little risky. A high-quality, water-based organic lubricant is all you need to feel secure knowing that what’s helping you get wet isn’t also helping you get sick!