Is Coconut Oil Safe as a Lubricant?

Disclaimer: This information isn’t a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should never rely upon this article for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

So, is coconut oil safe to use as a lube when you’re dealing with—and trying to eliminate the side effects of—vaginal dryness? It depends on who you ask and, more importantly, who you believe.

A trusted source on the matter, the North American Menopause Society, (1) offers these words of caution against using oil-based lubricants in general: “Oil-based lubricants…should be avoided, as they can cause vaginal irritation and are associated with high rates of latex condom breakage that can lead to sexually transmitted infections.”

As to coconut oil specifically, research has not been conducted on the safety and efficacy of this as a treatment for vaginal dryness, reports the National Women’s Health Network (NWHN) (2) (unlike the many studies that have been conducted about other lubricants, moisturizers, and treatment options).

So, by and large, the information you’ll find on coconut oil as a lube that works to help those who are feeling the full effects of vaginal dryness will be anecdotal at best.

While friends and family may swear by something that works for them—be it coconut oil or some other natural remedy for vaginal dryness—that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s something that will work for you. And, in the worst case scenario, it could be something that might exacerbate your discomfort.

“If you’re looking to use something natural and evidence-based, women should be careful about remedies that involve putting something that is not doctor-recommended inside the vagina,” explains Dr. Melynda Barnes, MD, Clinical Director at Rory. “Anything that’s put inside the vagina has the potential to alter pH, which is when you’re at risk for bacterial vaginosis.”

Non-Medication Treatment Options for Vaginal Dryness

While many women are affected by the condition, only 20-25 percent of those with vaginal atrophy (the medical name for vaginal dryness) associated with postmenopause, get medical help according to research published by the American Academy of Family Physicians (3).

Know someone affected by vaginal dryness? The good news is there are a range of options that, unlike coconut oil, have been studied.

Alternatives to medicine

Alternatives to medicine include vaginal moisturizers and water-based lubricants. The former work to address day-to-day discomfort associated with atrophic vaginitis, while the latter work to prevent vaginal dryness-related pain associated with sex.

Lifestyle Changes

Small changes you can make to your routine at home may help reduce symptoms of dryness and irritation, including avoiding products with fragrances, like soaps, laundry detergents, lotions, douches, and perfumes, recommends the U.S. National Library of Medicine (4). For more suggestions, check out our guide for 8 natural remedies for vaginal dryness.

Other Treatments for Vaginal Dryness

While alternative treatments may help with some symptoms of vaginal dryness, they may not offer enough relief. If that’s the case, a doctor can help come up with a treatment plan that works, such as vaginal estrogen creams, a common therapy for vaginal dryness.

References

The North American Menopause Society. Vaginal and Vulvar Comfort: Lubricants, Moisturizers, and Low-dose Vaginal Estrogen. The North American Menopause Society. Accessed March 12, 2019

2. National Women’s Health Network (NWHN). Is Coconut Oil Safe to Use as a Personal Lubricant. National Women’s Health Network (NWHN). Published February 21, 2017. Accessed March 12, 2019

3. Bachman GA, Nevadunsky NS. Diagnosis and Treatment of Atrophic Vaginitis. Am Fam Physician. 2000 May 15;61(10):3090-3096.

Jacobson JD. Vaginal Dryness. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Updated September 28, 2017. Accessed March 12, 2019