Like everyone else in the mid-2010s, I got swept up by the coconut oil craze. Hair, skin, nails… I used it for everything. Which is why I was equal parts smitten and confused by Coconu, a coconut-oil-infused personal lubricant company. Why create a lube with coconut oil if I can just make a pit stop to the pantry on my way to the bedroom? Like, can’t you use straight-from-the-grocery-store coconut oil as lube and call it a day?
Uh, negative. Even though coconut oil for lube sounds like an all-natural and cheap option, it’s a precarious thing to play with. Because our genitals are absorbent as hell, straight coconut oil can mess with your vagina’s pH balance, taking you on a trip to Yeast Infection City.
“The caution around coconut oil as lube is because it has antimicrobial properties, and as such, it may disrupt the healthy vaginal flora,” says Jolene Brighten, ND, naturopathic physician and women’s health expert. “However, it’s important to note that we don’t have studies showing this is definitively true and some women report that they have experienced less yeast infections since using [coconut oil as lube]. Of course, this may be because of the type of lube they were using previously or other factors.”
Perhaps even more important than the potential disruption of your vagina’s fragile bacterial balance, Dr. Bighten says, is that coconut oil can make certain birth control methods ineffective at protecting against pregnancy and STIs: Oil-based lubricants compromise the integrity of latex and polyisoprene condoms, increasing the risk of breakage.
With the bedroom a no-go zone for regular coconut oil, I decided to try Coconu Oil-Based Lubricant ($25), the first USDA-certified-organic coconut-oil-based lube on the market. (Again, oil-based lubes should not be used with latex condoms—they will break. Coconu’s oil-based formula has a twin that’s a good choice for sex with condoms, Coconu Water-Based Lubricant [$25].) When I got my hands on a bottle I could see that it’s formulated with nourishing all-natural ingredients like shea butter, cocoa seed butter, and sweet almond oil.
The ingredients sound good enough to eat, which is convenient, because the product is, indeed, edible. “You don’t want to put really anything in your vagina that you don’t want to put in your mouth, truthfully, because it’s such a sensitive part of the body and it absorbs so much,” says Sarah Belzer, president of Coconu. “Anything with chemicals or glycerin or any of that is just not good for your pH.” Indeed, the three ingredients you should keep far away from your vagina are glycerin, glycol, and fragrances.
Coconu was formulated to be especially pH-balanced, and the oil version is a great companion for foreplay, silicone toys, lips, cuticles—it was meant to have that all-purpose moisturizing versatility of pure coconut oil, says Belzer. Even giving it a test drive on my hand creates a lovely texture, with the product going on smooth but not too slick, and by no means sticky.
Put into action (read: not the back of my hand), I found Coconu to be a lovely addition to my nightstand and my nightly activities. It not only feels much better than straight coconut oil, but it has a lax, pleasant aroma, and I always consider anything sensuous in more than one way a plus. The packaging is so discreet that it just looks like a lotion, so nobody will ever question why it’s on my bedside table. You leave a jar of coconut oil on your nightstand and guests start being like, “WTF, are you making buckwheat pancakes in here or something?”
So can you use coconut oil for lube, straight up? Mmmm, please don’t. But trust me, you can still enjoy the benefits of coconut oil while keeping your vagina very, very happy.
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