Understanding and using coconut oil vulvovaginally

Coconut oil is used vaginally and on the vulva as a lubricant and moisturiser, as well as being a delivery system for treatments in the form of solidified pessaries/suppositories.

There are several studies that show coconut oil applied to the skin helps keep skin hydrated while reducing itching and dryness associated with eczema (atopic dermatitis).

Coconut oil contains lauric acid, which is known to have antimicrobial properties.

How to choose and buy coconut oil for use vulvovaginally

If you’re going to use coconut oil on your vulva or in your vagina, make sure it is organic (no chemicals or pesticides used) and virgin or extra virgin (the first press).

Coconut oil – even the finest organic, virgin oil – is cheap to buy and should cost between $10-$20 for a litre. A small jar tends to last a long time, but coconut oil doesn’t go bad, so stocking up with a large jar is a budget-friendly move.

Studies show that virgin coconut oil may:

  • Inhibit Staphylococcus aureus biofilm formation
  • Control Clostridium difficile
  • Inhibit microbial growth of C. difficile
  • Lauric acid has anti-Chlamydia trachomatis activity in vitro
  • A coconut oil cream was found to be as effective as a drug antifungal at treating vulvovaginal yeast infections
  • Carvacrol with coconut oil was effective against Escherichia coli, Salmonella enteritidis, Staphylococcus aureus, Listeria monocytogenes, and Enterococcus cecorum
  • Inhibit Trichomonas vaginalis

How to use coconut oil safely on the vulva or in the vagina

Coconut oil appears to be safe to use on the skin, but studies are lacking when it comes to the effect of coconut oil on the vaginal microbiome, for example.

Anecdotally, it appears to be safe for most people, but this comes with a caveat: if you think coconut oil worsens your symptoms of any condition, stop using it.

Coconut oil is not magic, and with everything, it has pros and cons depending on your body.

Using coconut oil as a carrier of other ingredients

Coconut is extremely useful as a carrier of other oils or ingredients because it becomes solid when it cools. This solidity means we can turn it into pessaries or suppositories easily.

Using coconut oil safely as a vaginal lubricant

Coconut oil makes a cheap, natural vaginal lubricant that doesn’t go bad, and isn’t a harbinger of germs. But, you need to care for your coconut stash if you’re using it vaginally to avoid cross-contamination.

  • If it’s hot, your coconut oil will probably be liquid or semi-liquid – dunk a finger or two to
  • Get enough oil to use on the vulva around the vaginal entrance and over the clitoral area
  • Insert some oil into the vagina if necessary, but you can also apply to a toy or penis before penetration
  • Don’t use coconut oil with latex condoms – oils can cause deterioration of the latex, resulting in a possible breakage or leak
  • Only use a clean finger or a clean teaspoon to scoop coconut from the jar – avoid double-dipping, especially with butt-fingers – you don’t want to next time get butt-finger in your vagina
  • Put coconut oil from the bigger jar into a much smaller jar, then wash small jar every time oil runs out, instead of scooping from the larger jar every time for six months

Coconut allergies

Coconut oil allergy is rare, but not unheard of by any means, and this can manifest in the vagina differently to what you would expect. Coconut oil allergy means an allergy to a protein found in the oil. Coconut protein is unique, which means if you are allergic to other proteins (like peanuts or bananas) you are unlikely to have cross allergies.

A cross allergy occurs when you have an allergic reaction to something similar to what you are already known to be allergic to because the proteins appear similarly to your immune system.

There have been some cases reported of kids with tree nut allergies developing coconut allergies later on, despite the fact that coconut is classified as a fruit, not a botanical nut. Cross-allergy with coconut is uncommon and not an expected eventuation.

How do I know if I have a coconut allergy?

You may just find that coconut doesn’t feel good when used vaginally or on the skin. You may develop:

  • Rashes
  • Swelling
  • Hives
  • Redness
  • Irritation
  • Discomfort

If you suspect you are reacting to coconut, stop using it, and if possible get allergy testing to confirm this. Or, just avoid it both in food, cosmetics and straight from the jar.

The phytochemistry and botanicals of the coconut tree – just for fun

Understanding where our plants and medicines come from is interesting for some, but not essential reading so skip this if you’re not into it!

The botanical name of the coconut plant is Cocos nucifera. The coconut tree is the most naturally widespread fruit plant on earth.

C. nucifera constituents from the various parts of the plant (including the husk of the coconut fruit) are known to have pharmacological effects, which include:

  • Antihelminthic (removes parasitic worms)
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antinociceptive (pain nerve signal interruption)
  • Antioxidant
  • Antifungal
  • Antimicrobial
  • Antitumour
  • Analgesic (pain relief)
  • Antiarthritic (positive impact on arthritis)
  • Antipyretic (reduces fever)
  • Antidiarrheal (reduces diarrhoea)
  • Hypoglycaemic (reduces blood sugar)
  • Cardioprotective (protective effect on heart cells)
  • Antiseizure
  • Hepatoprotective (protective effect on liver cells)
  • Vasodilator (dilates blood vessels)
  • Nephroprotective (protective effect on kidney cells)
  • Antiosteoporosis

If you want to know more, we suggest reading the review by Lima EB, Sousa CN, Meneses LN, et al. from 2015 – it’s a beauty.


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Evangelista MTP, Abad‐Casintahan F, Lopez‐Villafuerte L. The effect of topical virgin coconut oil on SCORAD index, transepidermal water loss, and skin capacitance in mild to moderate pediatric atopic dermatitis: a randomized, double-blind, clinical trial. International Journal of Dermatology. 2014;53(1):100–8.

Shilling M, Matt L, Rubin E, Visitacion MP, Haller NA, Grey SF, et al. Antimicrobial Effects of Virgin Coconut Oil and Its Medium-Chain Fatty Acids on Clostridium difficile. Journal of Medicinal Food. 2013 Dec;16(12):1079–85.

Huang W-C, Tsai T-H, Chuang L-T, Li Y-Y, Zouboulis CC, Tsai P-J. Anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of capric acid against Propionibacterium acnes: A comparative study with lauric acid. Journal of Dermatological Science. 2014 Mar;73(3):232–40.

Strandberg, K. L., et al. (2009). Reduction in staphylococcus aureus growth and exotoxin production and in vaginal interleukin 8 levels due to glycerol monolaurate in tampons. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 49: 1711–1717.

Renan da Silva Lima, Jane Mara Block, Coconut oil: what do we really know about it so far?, Food Quality and Safety, Volume 3, Issue 2, May 2019, Pages 61–72, https://doi.org/10.1093/fqsafe/fyz004

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Stutius LM, Sheehan WJ, Rangsithienchai P, et al. Characterizing the relationship between sesame, coconut, and nut allergy in children. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2010;21(8):1114–1118. doi:10.1111/j.1399-3038.2010.00997.x

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J Babol Univ Med Sci 21; 2019. P:93-98 Comparison of Vaginal Cream of Coconut Oil and Clotrimazole on Candidal Infection of Vagina S. Sheidaei (MSc)1 , F. Jafarnejad (MSc)1 , O. Rajabi (PhD)2 , M.J. Najaf Zadeh (Phd)3

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Jessica Lloyd - Vulvovaginal Specialist Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)