Vaginal dryness is an issue that many women experience, regardless of age. Added lubrication can help ease discomfort during sexual activity and in everyday life.
Coconut oil has already made waves in the beauty world for its moisturizing effects on hair and skin. Its soothing benefits aren’t limited to those spots, though. In fact, more and more women are turning to coconut oil to ease vaginal discomfort.
Read on to learn more about its benefits, how to make it work for you, and other things to consider before use.
Does it actually work?
Over 65 percent of women use personal lubricants to help with vaginal dryness. There is little research on coconut oil as a lubricant, but there is evidence of its moisturizing capabilities for other skin conditions.
One 2013 study examined coconut oil and its effect on skin moisture in children with atopic dermatitis. Participants spread virgin coconut oil or mineral oil on their affected skin each morning and evening after bathing.
Researchers concluded that virgin coconut oil is a good treatment for dryness and related skin conditions due to its:
- function as a barrier
- moisturizing and antibacterial properties
- wide availability and safety
That said, there isn’t clinical data to support the use and safety of coconut oil in and around your vagina.
In general, it’s considered safe to apply coconut oil to external skin. Anecdotal accounts suggest that internal use may be beneficial, but you should discuss this with your doctor before use.
What are the benefits of using coconut oil?
In addition to being a proven moisturizer, coconut oil has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties that may help fight urinary tract infections, yeast infections, and certain drug-resistant infections such as C. difficile.
It’s also all-natural. Unlike traditional lubricants, pure coconut oil is free of additives and other possible irritants. This means it’s less likely to cause inflammation in an already sensitive area.
Coconut oil and other oil-based lubricants also provide a thicker coating than water or gel-based varieties. This coating may also last longer. This means you don’t have to worry about frequent reapplication.
You can find coconut oil at most grocery stores and online — usually for $10 for less. Because it’s an oil, a little goes a long way, so you can get a lot of use out of one jar.
Coconut oil is also a more discreet purchase than conventional lubricants.
Are there any side effects or risks to consider?
While coconut oil may not contain chemical additives, it’s still a foreign substance to your body. You should always do a skin patch test before doing a full application. This allows you to determine how your skin will react.
To do this:
It’s also important to remember that anything put around or in your vagina can affect your vaginal pH. It isn’t harmful to have an unbalanced pH now and then, but it can increase your risk of infection.
You should also consider its effects on contraception and conception. Oil-based lubricants can weaken or break condoms. This puts you and your partner at risk for sexually transmitted infections. This breakdown also increases your risk of pregnancy if you’re using condoms as your primary means of birth control.
Coconut oil also isn’t the best for sperm travel. If you and your partner are trying to conceive, you may want to explore other alternatives.
Generally speaking, coconut oil is messy. If you aren’t careful, it may stain your sheets or clothes.
How to use
There’s no formal research on the use of coconut oil as a personal lubricant. Most of the information and advice you’ll find online is anecdotal and should be followed with caution.
You should always talk with your doctor before trying any alternative remedy. They can discuss any side effects or interactions with you.
Topical coconut oil
It’s generally considered safe to apply coconut oil liberally to the external skin of your vagina. If you want to use coconut oil internally, talk with your doctor beforehand.
You should always do a skin patch test before applying coconut oil to your vaginal area. To do this:
There’s no set guideline for how much coconut oil to use and how often to apply. Simply spread the desired amount on your skin. You may consider wearing a panty liner to avoid staining your underwear.
Oral coconut oil
Some women also consume coconut oil to help fight things like urinary tract infections. Taking coconut orally may or may not help with vaginal dryness, so keep an eye on your symptoms.
It’s safe to include coconut oil in your diet if you aren’t allergic. Note, though, that each tablespoon of oil contains 11 grams of saturated fat. Current American Heart Association recommendations are to consume no more than 13 grams of saturated fat each day.
How you eat the oil is up to you. Some people take it straight off a spoon while others melt it into a warm beverage.
Drinking coconut water
Coconut oil and coconut water are two different things. The water comes from the inside an immature coconut. You can find it at many grocery stores.
Like coconut oil, coconut water may help flush out bacteria. It may also help relieve dehydration, which can worsen symptoms of vaginal dryness.
How much you drink is really up to you — just be sure to keep your overall calorie count in mind by checking the nutrition label. Unlike regular water, coconut water contains calories and nutrients that count toward your daily intake.
Tips for product selection
If you do choose to use coconut oil as a personal lubricant, look for unprocessed pure virgin coconut oil. Organic varieties have also been exposed to fewer pesticides. Read the labels carefully.
You can purchase coconut oil in liquid or solid form. You can melt solidified coconut oil in the palm of your hands and rub it into your skin.
Talk to your doctor
Talk to your doctor before applying topical coconut oil to your vaginal area. They can discuss your individual risk of side effects and interactions.
They may also be able to recommend alternative solutions, such as:
- vaginal moisturizers (Replens)
- low-dose estrogen creams or tablets
- selective estrogen receptor modulators
Coconut oil may help lubricate your vagina after one application, but you’ll need to reapply as your symptoms return. Repeat applications are the only way to keep the area moisturized.
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