Is it safe to use coconut oil for vaginal dryness?
Many people use vaginal moisturizers or lubricants to help ease vaginal discomfort and to make intercourse more comfortable. A 2014 study involving 1,021 women found that 66 percent of participants reported having used a personal lubricant.
Although there are several vaginal lubricants available in the personal health aisle, some people prefer a more natural approach.
People using latex-based contraceptive devices should avoid coconut oil as a lubricant, however. This is because the oil can break down the latex in these devices, making them less effective.
In this article, we explore whether coconut oil works as a vaginal lubricant, how to use it safely, and risks and considerations.
We also cover other benefits of using coconut oil on the skin, and some alternative options for vaginal dryness.
Does it work?
Coconut oil is popular as a natural skin moisturizer.
Coconut oil is popular home remedy for a number of health conditions. Many people also use it to moisturize their hair and skin. The oil is also gaining popularity as a natural lubricant for vaginal dryness.
However, evidence for the effectiveness of coconut oil as a vaginal lubricant is so far largely anecdotal.
Some studies suggest that coconut oil is safe to use on the skin and can help relieve dryness. For example, a 2013 study investigated the topical use of coconut oil for treating mild to moderate atopic dermatitis in children.
The team concluded that coconut oil was more effective than mineral oil at treating symptoms of atopic dermatitis, such as skin dryness. None of the children in the study experienced adverse reactions to the coconut oil.
The researchers also found that coconut oil:
- coated the skin to reduce water loss
- helped strengthen the skin barrier
- had emollient properties, meaning that it may help soothe and hydrate the skin
How to use safely
Scientists have conducted no research into the safety or effectiveness of coconut oil as a personal lubricant. However, several studies suggest that coconut oil is generally safe to use on the skin.
Anyone with an allergy or sensitivity to coconut or coconut oil should avoid using such products on the skin or as a personal lubricant.
Before using coconut oil, it can be helpful to perform a patch test. To do this, rub a small amount of the coconut oil on the inner skin of the forearm and wait for 24 hours to see whether there is a reaction.
Stop using coconut oil on the skin or as personal lubricant if it causes:
- irritation or discomfort
To use coconut oil as a personal lubricant, apply it around the opening of the vagina and on the vulva. Also apply the oil to any objects that will enter the vagina, such as the penis, fingers, or sex toys.
Risks and considerations
A person can speak to their doctor if they are experiencing vaginal dryness.
People using latex-based contraceptive devices, such as condoms and diaphragms, should avoid using coconut oil as a vaginal lubricant.
Coconut oil and other oil-based lubricants break down the latex in these devices, which makes them less effective and increases the risk of unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.
Vaginal lubricants can also disrupt the natural pH balance inside the vagina, which may increase the risk of infections. People more to prone vaginal infections may wish to speak to their doctor before using coconut oil as a lubricant.
There may be other options that are safer for individuals who are highly sensitive to pH changes.
It is also worth noting that oil-based lubricants such as coconut oil can be messy to use and may stain clothing, underwear, and bedding.
Using a towel during sex can help protect sheets. People using coconut oil outside of sexual activity may wish to consider using a panty liner or a thin pad to help protect underwear.
Are there other benefits?
Pure coconut oil is a natural moisturizer and does not contain added chemicals that may cause skin irritation.
Some studies also suggest that coconut oil has antibacterial properties, which may help protect against infections.
For example, a 2013 study found that medium-chain fatty acids from virgin coconut oil can inhibit the growth of Clostridium difficile, which is a type of bacteria that can cause a serious form of diarrhea.
There are also some practical benefits to using coconut oil. It is a thicker oil, which means that it tends to stay on the skin longer, reducing the need for reapplication. This can make coconut oil a cost-effective option for personal lubrication.
Coconut oil is also widely available in both health and grocery stores.
What are some alternatives?
Almond oil is an alternative to coconut oil.
Other natural lubrication options include almond, olive, peanut, and avocado oils.
There are also many different commercial personal lubricants that are widely available in pharmacies and online.
Commercial lubricants come in three main forms:
Water- and silicone-based lubricants are best for people who use latex condoms or diaphragms.
Some products cause irritation when a person uses them on the delicate tissues of the vulva and vagina. These include:
- petroleum-based products, such as Vaseline
- products containing glycerin
- baby oil
- flavored products
- products with warming, cooling, or tingling properties
Although spermicidal gel does provide lubrication, it can sometimes cause irritation, and it has an unpleasant, chemical-like taste and smell.
People going through or already through menopause may wish to speak with their doctor to see whether they are a candidate for vaginal estrogen. This can help correct the hormonal imbalances that lead to vaginal dryness.
Coconut oil is a popular natural option for relieving vaginal dryness. Although there is no specific research into using coconut oil as personal lubricant, studies suggest that coconut oil is generally safe to use on the skin.
Coconut oil can cause skin irritation in some people, so it is advisable to test the oil on a small patch of skin before using it as a personal lubricant.
Because oils can break down latex, people who use latex condoms or diaphragms may wish to consider not using coconut oil or any other oil-based products as a lubricant during sex.
A range of pure coconut oil products are available to purchase online.