Update: Coconut Oil Is Not Safe as a Lubricant

Posted On: December 9, 2018

I am writing this to correct the ongoing misinformation that coconut oil is safe as a vaginal lubricant.

Apparently some people, especially bodyworkers ,swear by it because they don’t have any issues with using coconut oil as an internal lubricant, and because none of their clients haven’t had issued – but of course it doesn’t mean people won’t develop problems down the road. It is also untrue that coconut oil is safe as a vaginal lubricant because it is derived from plants.

I am well aware that I myself have taught that coconut oil is safe for internal massage. However with new information received below, I am realising that I do need to update my own knowledge, and admit with all humility that I may have been wrong, even though I never had any intention to hurt anyone.

Ellen Barnard, owner of A Woman’s Touch, sex educator and sex counselor whom I respect has this to say about the use of coconut oil: “For those wondering about coconut oil as a lubricant on the vulva or in the vagina… here is a study on oral use of coconut oil that show that it reduced the population of lactobacillus as well as chlorhexidine did. Since we want a lactobacillus in the vagina, we can extrapolate that vaginal use may lead to an imbalance in the vaginal microbiome that might then cause an increase in the bacteria that cause a flare of bacterial vaginosis.

FYI, the reason we started looking for data is that we had quite a few women coming in and telling us that their health care provider recommended they use coconut oil as a lubricant and they were mystified by the fact that they started having more problems with BV. Our take on it is that coconut oil is both anti-fungal (the reason that providers like it; it kills candida) and anti-bacterial (the reason it kills lactobacillus and therefore the concern with its use as a lube).

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25210256

Unfortunately there is no one doing solid research on the use of lubricants. Here is a link with limited information:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23635677

But nothing else that looks at the effect of different types of lubricants on the vaginal microbiome. The study done by the folks developing a rectal microbacide to fight HIV transmission looked at the effect of lubricants on the skin (or really on slug mucosa, a stand-in for mucous membranes on humans) and how moisture can be pulled out of the skin with some lubricants, but they did not look at the actual microbiome and lube effects on that.”

In short she is saying: “Based on the data on how regular coconut oil can change the bacterial balance in mucous membranes, I do not ever recommend it for use inside the vagina. Some people find that it works fine for external vulvar or penis use for other kinds of play.”

With this update information, I am urging you to not just perpetuate what others do, and cause damage to lives if you are a sex educator/ bodyworker who does genital masssage. And for those of you who do use coconut oil for internal massage or as an internal lubricant to reconsider your choice.

About Dr. Martha Tara Lee

Surrounded by friends who were sexually inhibited and struck by dire lack of positive conversations around sex and sexuality in Singapore, Dr. Martha Tara Lee set out to make a positive difference in embarking on her doctorate in human sexuality before launching Eros Coaching in 2009. Today, she remains dedicated to working with individuals and couples who wish to lead self-actualised and pleasure-filled lives.

She also holds certificates in counselling, coaching and sex therapy, and her fourth degree – a Masters in Counselling in May 2018. In practice for more than nine years, she is the only certified sexuality educator and certified sexuality educator supervisor by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) in Singapore.

Often cited in the local media, Dr. Lee is the appointed sex expert for Men’s Health Singapore, and Men’s Health Malaysia. She was recognised as one of ‘Top 50 Inspiring Women Under 40′ by Her World in July 2010, and one of ‘Top 100 Inspiring Women’ by CozyCot in March 2011. She is the host of weekly radio show Eros Evolution on the OMTimes Radio Network.  She has published three books: Love, Sex and Everything In-BetweenOrgasmic Yoga and From Princess to Queen.

Martha works with individuals and couples in private coaching sessions, and conducts her own workshops. She takes prides in making sure all her workshops are also fun, educational, and sex-positive. This comes easily to her because even though she is extremely dedicated and serious about her work, she fundamentally believes that sex is meant to be fun, wonderful, amazing and sacred. As such, this serious light-heartedness has shone through again and again. For her full profile, click here. Email her here.

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