Recently, it was suggested to me that using coconut oil as lube could lead to more yeast infections. The theory was that coconut oil is thick and might trap bacteria/yeast. I figured this wasn’t true. Coconut oil is about as thin as the oils we produce in our hair naturally – one of it’s greatest benefits – so it can absorb completely through the skin.
Still, I wasn’t sure so I asked Cortana.
“Among the most potent natural yeast-fighting substances are lauric acid and caprylic acid, both derived from coconut oil. All medium chain fatty acids found in coconut oil kill yeast, viruses and bacteria,” she read to me aloud in the husky robotic tone of hers. (source)
Ok, so my assumption was right, but the reasoning was wrong. Seeing as I’ve never had a anyone teach about yeast infections and how they work, one could forgive the mistake. Still, I’m nothing if not curious so I took the deep dive to learn a bit more.
How yeast infections work
Yeast is fungi, like mushrooms but a lot smaller and in the vagina. Their job is to decompose things like animal carcasses and plant debris. While these little helpers do a great job in forests and compost piles, you are not a carcass and the lining of your vagina isn’t in need of decomposition. There lies the problem.
Cadida yeast, the common kind that causes yeast infections in living humans, takes over by digging through the lining of your vagina, urethra, anus, or any other warm/dark/damp place on our bodies it. If it likes the food available, it will reproduce quickly. Carbs and sugar are its favorite food, which is why people with high blood sugar tend to get them more often. Although, candida also requires biotin aka Vitamin B7 so it can grow and reproduce.
Left unchecked, the yeast will continue to reproduce and decompose its host. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to fix with anti-fungal medicines and, apparently, coconut oil.
Lauric acid and the anti-fungal properties of coconut oil
It’s not just hippie rumors or even junk science. Fatty acids are scientifically proven to kill fungus, among other things.
“Fatty acids are known to possess antibacterial, antimalarial and antifungal activity. The development of resistance of microbes, including fungi and yeasts, towards antimicrobial agents already in use, necessitates the search for alternative antimicrobials, including fatty acids and their derivatives (e.g. methylated and hydroxyl fatty acids). Although fatty acids may not be as effective as chemical fungicides, they pose less environmental risks. They are not only biodegradable, but exhibit a high degree of specificity. In addition, fatty acids are accepted food additives and importantly, pathogenic fungi are less likely to become resistant to antifungal fatty acids.”
[Source - Carolina H. Pohl, Johan L.F. Kock and Vuyisile S. ThibaneDepartment of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, 9300, South Africa http://www.formatex.info/microbiology3/book/61-71.pdf]
Linoleic, caprylic,, decanonic, myristic, palmitic, and oleic acids are available in high amounts via coconut oil. Although, it’s made of 48% laric acid with the others splitting the rest pretty evenly. Apparently, they work by destroying the cell structure of the yeast, which is a deliciously just turn of fortune.
So, what’s the truth?
It appears to me that any case of increased yeast infections when using coconut oil is most likely the result of contamination. As our South African researchers said, fatty acids are somewhat less effective than traditional antifungal medicines. Therefore, if there’s any sugar in your oil, the yeast would be much more likely to bloom. Alternatively, you might want to go get your blood sugar checked.
There’s this common tip to sweeten vaginal secretions and semen by drinking pineapple juice. From my understanding, there’s some truth to it due to the simple fruit sugar fructose. Since it’s a simple sugar it’s easy for our body to digest an use in whatever way is needed, usually fluid making. Even if you’re not inhaling pineapple, diabetes, a Coke habit, or a few Cronuts could cause the same problem.
Other things to think about
· If someone eats candy or something sugary then eats you out, there might be some transfer there.
· Sugar is also released in your saliva. So, high blood sugar would cause that, too.
· Wash your hands, including under your nails.
· Portion your oil so you don’t have to dip your fingers in full container.
· You might also want to check out a lube like The Butters, which includes apple cider vinegar and arrowroot to help balance pH. That should help you ward of fungus and bacteria a little better.