It’s a new year, new(ish) you and we’re bringing in brand new topics for GO’s sex ed column. I’ve found that talking about lube is often an interesting conversation because a lot of people feel ~some type of way~ about using or not using lube. There is often this misconception that people with vulva’s only need lube when they’re older or have gone through menopause which simply isn’t true. Lube can be medicinal and also pleasure enhancing!
Of the queers I know who do use and love lube — most of them have been talking to me about how amazing coconut oil is and how they find it an accessible and natural alternative to purchasing commercial brand lubes. Some people feel overwhelmed by trying to figure out when to use water-based lube or silicone based lube, so they opt for neither and go for coconut oil. But the thing is that coconut oil has its own set of “if’s, but’s and when’s” especially when you’re spreading it on your genitals.
1. Oil breaks down latex
Coconut oil — or really any oil based lube you may be using — has the potential to break down latex barriers such as condoms, dental damns, finger cots or even latex gloves. This means that while the barrier may not break entirely, the material of it will break down throughout the time you’re having sex making you and your partners more susceptible to STIs or pregnancy. If you’re using latex barriers of any kind, it’s best to use water or silicone based lube as neither of them will degrade latex.
2. Coconut oil breeds an environment perfect for unwanted bacteria
This. Is. So. Important. I’ll start with a fun fact for you: Vagina’s are magical and have their own natural bacterial culture that keeps them healthy, happy and clean. That’s right, bacteria living in the vagina is a natural cleaner (which is why you should never use those bizarre vanilla scented vaginal washes).
However, vaginal culture has a pretty delicate balance and any bacteria that’s added to the vaginal culture that doesn’t belong can really mess things up. The thick and oily structure of coconut oil makes it easy for unwanted bacteria to breed and hang around in the vagina causing things like yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis to take hold. Using coconut oil as lube for a prolonged period of time can make people with vulva’s more prone to these infections in the long run. So if you are prone to these sorts of infections already — hold off on the coconut oil and schedule a visit to your healthcare provider.
3. Clean the build-up
While I wouldn’t recommend using coconut oil as lube for inter-vaginal use because of the issues addressed above — it’s actually a great natural alternative for anal play. It makes for a lasting and easy glide which is often needed for anal play since there is no natural lubricant produced by the body.
The one health concern to watch out for here is buildup. This goes for oil or silicone based lubes that will leave a residue, particularly on the anus. If you continue to use these lubes for anal sex without thorough cleaning afterwards, the residue will build up. The easy fix is simply taking a soapy finger and inserting it in your anus when you take a shower post-sex. This will clean any leftover lube and ensure it doesn’t build up over time!
4. Don’t mix and mingle
If you’re going to use coconut oil as lube then you definitely need to keep it separate from the coconut oil you use in the kitchen. Do not mix and mingle these two jars! You could possibly be spreading different food cultures or bacterias to your genitals and that is never healthy. Have a little jar kept by your bedside for the sole purpose of lube.
Overall, while coconut oil can be helpful for anal sex or people going through menopause experiencing increased dryness — I wouldn’t suggest using coconut oil as a lube for vaginal penetration. If you’re looking for natural-lube to use and can’t or don’t want to use coconut oil, here are a few I’d recommend:
H2O Sliquid: This water-based lube is my go to because it is paraben free, 100 percent vegan, scent free and made with all natural ingredients. This lube is made with purified plant water, plant cellulose, Cyamopsis, potassium sorbate, and citric acid. It also is long lasting and super smooth.
Aloe Cadabra: This lube is 95 percent aloe — which is a plant-based ingredient that is known to sooth pain and heals burns. This product is FDA approved which is rare as the sex toy industry is currently unregulated, meaning there are a lot of body not-safe products out there. This is definitely body safe, all organic and overall a soothing lube.
Sylk: I absolutely love this lube because it is PH balanced — which helps keep natural vaginal bacteria helpful and prevent any unwanted bacteria from breeding. It’s an eco-friendly lube that actually mimics your bodies natural lubricant. It’s also safe for any barrier or toy usage. With the Kiwifruit vine extract base, this lube is moisturizing and soothing on your skin.
Have more sex questions? Leave a comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org and come back for more every Friday!
The advice offered in this column is intended for informational purposes only and should not replace or substitute for any medical, or other professional advice or help. For concerns requiring psychological or medical advice, please consult with an appropriately trained and qualified specialist This column, its author, the magazine and publisher are not responsible for the outcome or results of following any advice contained within this column.