Coconut Oil As Lube: What’s Safe And What’s Not

If you’re not already a big fan of using lube during sex, it’s time to climb aboard the slippery bandwagon. Adding lube into the mix can help take sex from painful to pleasurable. And if your sex life is already good, lube can make it great. “Lubricant can be medicinal, but it can also be pleasure-enhancing,” Alyssa Dweck, M.D., assistant clinical professor of obstetrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and co-author of V Is For Vagina, tells SELF.

Basically, the slickness aides in decreasing irritating friction and making things all-around more enjoyable, especially if you have a hard time getting naturally lubricated on your own. There are various types of lube—water-based, oil-based, and silicone—each of which can work in different situations. But thanks to the movement towards all things “natural,” some people have been ditching their usual lubes in favor of coconut oil. It makes sense—the internet is filled with coconut-oil hacks galore, and sometimes it seems like liquid gold that can make absolutely anything better. So naturally, people sometimes use it for sex.

Depending on what doctor you talk to, that’s either a great idea or a not-so-great idea. But they all agree on a couple of possible problems to keep in mind.

“I’m a big fan of coconut oil as a lubricant for women,” ob/gyn Sherry Ross, M.D., tells SELF. “I probably recommend it more in menopausal women because it has staying power in the vagina, which is good for dryness,” she explains. But she also suggests some of her younger patients try it out as long as they’re aware of its potential downsides.

First, there’s the fact that coconut oil—or any oil-based lube, for that matter—can mess with latex barriers like condoms and dental dams, making them more likely to break and leaving you susceptible to pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, Dweck says. Water- and silicone-based lubes, on the other hand, don’t degrade latex. If you’re using any sort of barrier that contains latex, be sure to keep that in mind.

Safe-sex issues aside, coconut oil may make some people more prone to vaginal infections. “We tell people to try not to use oils,” Jamil Abdur-Rahman, M.D., board-certified ob/gyn and chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Vista East Medical Center in Waukegan, Illinois, tells SELF. Although Abdur-Rahman has heard coconut oil is generally safe to use as lube, its thick, syrupy nature may make it easier for bacteria to hang around in the vagina, breed, and cause bacterial or yeast infections, he says. Your vagina has a pretty delicate bacterial balance, and when that gets thrown off, you can start to experience itching, strange discharge, and other symptoms of infection.

Ross acknowledges this is possible, but since she hasn’t actually seen such cases with patients, she chalks it up to being more of a theoretical concern than something people need to worry about in practice.

However, she says, if you’re basically always dealing with one vaginal infection or another, you might want to avoid putting this theory to the test. Constant infections could be a sign your vagina is on the sensitive side and wouldn’t take kindly to a coconut-oil experiment. With that said, Ross doesn’t see this as a common enough concern to deter her from suggesting coconut oil as lube to various patients.

Whether you incorporate coconut oil into your sex life is really up to you and how you weigh the potential risks and payoffs. “It’s important to note there are a gazillion types of lube,” says Dweck. “Trial and error is probably your best bet.”

SELF – Culture