These days, people are using coconut oil for everything: sautéing veggies, moisturizing their skin and hair, and even whitening their teeth. But gynecologists are the latest to notice another use: Many women are stashing the pantry staple in their bedside table, too—using it as lube, says Jennifer Gunter, M.D., an ob-gyn at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Francisco. “I’ve had patients asking about it.” [Tweet this odd news!]
There haven’t been any studies looking at the safety of coconut oil as a lubricant, she explains. “So far it seems safe—I haven’t had any patients report any negative side effects.” Plus, it’s natural, preservative free, and affordable compared with traditional lubricants you find at the drugstore.
“In my practice, many women who experience vaginal dryness, have chemical sensitivities, or vulvar sensitivities report really liking it,” Gunter says. An added bonus: Coconut oil contains natural antifungal properties so it could help reduce the risk of infections when using it. But still be sure to wipe it off after sex, as usual, and certainly don’t douche—ever.
Coconut oil has a low melting point so as soon as you rub it in your hands, it will melt and you’re good to go. Use it before a roll in the hay just as you would any other type of lubricant during foreplay and sex, Dr. Gunter says.
And when shopping for the spread, make sure to check that the ingredients list only one item—coconut oil—to ensure you’re not absorbing other products that could potentially cause a reaction. Even if your current lube gets the job done, you may want to take a gander at the ingredients, too. “Stay away from lubricants with glycerin and parabens as these products can break down to irritants,” Dr. Gunter says.
But before you dive into this tropical trend, make sure you’re not allergic by rubbing some on your arm and watching the area for about a day for any redness, itching, or irritation. Return the favor by testing it on your guy’s skin too.
“And don’t use coconut oil if you’re using latex condoms,” Gunter adds. Oils and petroleum products—like Vaseline—may weaken latex and increase the risk of breakage. You don’t have to forgo the slippery stuff with a condom—just be sure to use a polyurethane condom if you’re lubing up with coconut oil, which won’t break down in the presence of the oil.
And remember this: If you’re trying to conceive, you may want to skip this “wonder” oil—and most others, for that matter. Many lubricants have been shown to change the pH in the vagina and hurt how well sperm swim, so they have a tougher time reaching their target. Although it isn’t known whether coconut oil may have the same effect, stick with Pre-Seed—a recent study in the Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics found it has the smallest effect on sperm function compared to nine other popular lubes.