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Can You Use Coconut Oil to Ease Vaginal Dryness?

Many older women report success in using coconut oil to ease vaginal dryness. It is inexpensive, easy to apply, and does not have scary side effects.
Can You Use Coconut Oil to Ease Vaginal Dryness?
Coconut oil on a bamboo mat

Say “menopause” and most people will immediately think of hot flashes. While they certainly can be disturbing, there are many other symptoms that women may find equally troublesome. One is vaginal discomfort, which can make intimate relations unpleasant or even painful. Doctors frequently prescribe estrogen, either oral or topical, to help with this problem (Expert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy, May 2019). Others may choose to prescribe ospemifene (Osphena). The research shows that this pill works well to relieve pain during intercourse, although it can lead to some undesirable side effects (Journal of Menopausal Medicine, April 2018). Women sometimes prefer to use topical hyaluronic acid when they wish to avoid hormones and their potential side effects. We have heard from women who report that they use olive oil or coconut oil to ease vaginal dryness. Is that a reasonable approach?

Using Coconut Oil to Ease Vaginal Dryness:

Q. You have had questions about vaginal dryness from women who are past menopause. I am well past myself. At 87, I consider myself a crone.

Coconut oil works for me. It doesn’t have the side effects that estrogen, oral or topical, can present. Plus it is cheap and available over the counter. You should suggest it for your readers.

A. Many women agree with you that they find it easy and helpful to use coconut oil to ease vaginal dryness. They apply it intravaginally, jus as other women might apply estrogen cream.

Deborah reported:

“My husband and I have been using organic coconut oil for several years with no problems. It is much better than any other lubricant we have tried. It can go rancid, but we usually have the jar for a year or more at room temp without any problems. It also works well as a lotion for very dry skin.”

Karla made another suggestion, based on her experience:

“I’ve been post menopausal for over 40 years due to a total hysterectomy. About 2 years ago my doctor diagnosed me with Atrophic Vaginitis because of the horrible burning.

My daughter is a distributor for natural oils, and she recommended that I try coconut oil. Love it! It works better than Premarin. I put it in a vaginal applicator and then freeze it. Amazon sells vaginal applicators since drug stores don’t.”

Will Sea Buckthorn Work Against Vaginal Dryness?

We heard from another reader who was enthusiastic about sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides). She sent us a link to a study conducted in Finland (Maturitas, Nov. 2014).  This placebo-controlled trial included more than 100 postmenopausal women. Unlike coconut oil, sea buckthorn oil is consumed orally, as a supplement (3 grams/day).

The investigators concluded:

“SB [sea buckthorn] oil showed beneficial effects on vaginal health, indicating it is a potential alternative for mucosal integrity for those women not able to use estrogen treatment for vaginal atrophy.”

We would love to find more research on this alternative treatment. Postmenopausal women deserve all the help they can get, including using coconut oil to ease vaginal dryness.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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Citations
  • Donders GGG et al, "Pharmacotherapy for the treatment of vaginal atrophy." Expert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy, May 2019. DOI: 10.1080/14656566.2019.1574752
  • Lee A et al, "Therapeutic approaches to atrophic vaginitis in postmenopausal women: A systematic review with a network meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials." Journal of Menopausal Medicine, April 2018. DOI: 10.6118/jmm.2018.24.1.1
  • Larmo PS et al, "Effects of sea buckthorn oil intake on vaginal atrophy in postmenopausal women: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study." Maturitas, Nov. 2014. DOI: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2014.07.010
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