Lube Matters – Part 2: Oil-Based Lube and the Coconut Oil Controversy

Oil Based LubeThis is the second post in the Lube Matters Series
Click here to read Part 1: Personal Lube Basics

Oil-based lube is one of the oldest types of personal lubricant. Today, there are a few oil-based lubes on the market, and coconut oil has sprung up as the “crunchy mama” lube of choice. So why aren’t they widely used or recommended anymore?

What is it?

Oils are liquid lipids made of fatty acid chains that are hydrophobic. That is, they don’t mix well with water. They don’t absorb readily into the body. They can be petroleum oils or plant oils. Petroleum oils should never be used for sexual use. They don’t have a pH or osmolality measurement.


Oils are long lasting, and just a little bit goes a long way. They’re very moisturizing to the skin, and can double as massage oil.


Not Vagina Friendly

The biggest drawback with oil-based lube is that it’s not vagina friendly overall. Oils shield bacteria from the pH of the vagina. Oil makes it easy for bacteria to thrive while inhibiting the growth of yeast. This can lead to an overgrowth of bacteria, a condition known as bacterial vaginosis, or BV. It’s characterized by a fishy odor, and it requires an antibiotic, especially since non-native bacteria can cause damage to your reproductive system. This also puts people with vaginas at greater risk of bacterial STI’s. Also, some people have yeast that will overgrow in the presence of a lot of bacteria, or water can get trapped between the lube and the walls of the vagina, which can both lead to a yeast infection.

Basically, oil traps microorganisms in place.

It’s fine for your butt, but not so fine for the vagina.

Condom Compatibility

Oils break down latex and polyisoprene, the two most common types of condoms, although it does depend on the oil. When in doubt, don’t risk it! If you’re using an oil-based lube with a non-fluid-bonded partner, opt for the FC2 internal condom or polyurethane condoms.


Oil-based lubes stain fabrics, and can cause bodily fluids to stain when they otherwise wouldn’t.


You need soap to clean oil-based lube off your skin. It doesn’t wash off internal tissues. This can have a laxative effect for some after anal sex.

Who Can Use It

People who have penises and people who receive anal penetration can use oil-based lubes with no problem. It’s great for hand jobs and penis masturbation. Just be careful not to get it in the urethra, because, again, it can trap bacteria.

What to Look For

The grocery store is not the place to find sexual lubricants. Stay out of the baking aisle! That goes for essence oils, too. Avoid petroleum like the plague. Only purchase oil based lubes designed to be used sexually. Never use Vaseline as a lube. 

Coconut Oil

I know I’m going to get a ton of coconut oil questions. Here’s the deal: officially, the jury is still out on coconut oil. It’s controversial among sex educators and medical professionals.

There is some evidence botanical oils are less damaging to the body than petroleum oils. We know that coconut oil has natural antimicrobial properties, but we also know that those antimicrobial properties work differently on everyone. There’s a limit. It still is an oil, and it still traps microorganisms in place.

We also know that it contains coconut proteins, so if one has plant allergies, this can cause inflammation internally.

Another issue with coconut oil is that the stuff in the jar from the cooking aisle at the grocery store is not processed by a facility that produces things for genitals. Your stomach can handle a lot more than your vagina in terms of facility contamination, additives, fillers, and pesticides. Pathogens and contaminants can also fall in when the lid has a large surface area, as many in the grocery store do.

My bottom line on coconut oil (or any other botanical oils) for vaginal intercourse: don’t risk it. Although, if you’ve been using it and it’s working for you, there’s no real reason to stop unless you get pregnant or enter menopause, or anything else that can cause vaginal environment changes. If you’re new to it, know the risks. Know that you’ll need special condoms, and please stop at the first instance of irritation, strange vaginal smell, unusual discharge, or any other sign of infection.


If you want to try an oil-based lube for anal sex, try Coconou Coconut Oil Based Lubricant, which is made for sexual use, and remember that a little goes a looong way. For hand jobs, I like Sliquid Ride Rub Stroke Oil.


Did you miss Part 1 of the series? Click here.


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