The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

February 11, 2008

Plastic-free Sex, Part 1 – Reducing Friction in Relationships

Happy Valentine’s Day week. We’re all adults here, right? If Burbanmom can make the astonishing admission that she and her husband like to do it (gasp!) then I’m prepared to grab that ball (NPI) and run with it. Warning: this post gets a wee bit explicit. Read at your own risk.

So I’m sitting here looking at a #3 (PVC) plastic bottle of Liquid Silk sensual lubricant. The long list of chemical ingredients includes many parabens: methyl paraben, butyl paraben, ethyl paraben, propyl paraben, as well as the preservative BHT. And this is what Michael and I are putting on and in our bodies each time we get extra specially close. The Skin Deep database gives it a provisional moderate hazard rating of 4, which is not what I’m looking for when I get in bed with my guy.

Now, I know there are natural, non-toxic water-based lubricants on the market: Firefly (formerly Nude), Good Glide, O’My Natural Lubricant, Love Lube, Sensua Organics, Sylk, and more. The problem? They all come in plastic bottles.

So we’ve recently switched to a somewhat controversial solution: pure olive oil.  [2016 Update:  For the past several years, we have switched to coconut oil, which has anti-fungal properties that can be helpful to women, and which doesn’t make your hoo hoo smell like a salad.]  Controversial because there is disagreement over whether or not using olive oil in this way can be harmful or not. Also, I don’t think you can use it with condoms, if that’s your birth control method of choice. Some doctors, like this one from the U.K., go so far as to scoff at the very idea of using olive oil as something for the poor unwashed masses. He says:

Well, I have never heard of anybody doing this in the UK — though I have recently learned that it is sometimes done in Mediterranean countries, particularly where people can’t afford proper sex lubricants.

Frankly I wouldn’t recommend this practice, partly because no one has ever done any research so far on the effects of olive oil on the vagina — or indeed the penis.

The attitude of superiority that rings through in that statement makes me want to use olive oil just to be ornery. “Proper” sex lubricants? What “proper” sex lubricants did people use for thousands of years before synthetics were invented? And why does a lack of research automatically make something unsafe? And Mediterranean folk seem to be right about food. Maybe they know something about sex, too. Ya think?

On the other side of the fence are folk who believe that olive oil can be great for the vagina. And in between, there are various opinions all over the web about whether or not olive oil is okay to use as lube, although none of them seem to be based on facts. I’ve also read about using coconut oil or sweet almond oil for this purpose, but they’re more expensive and harder to come by plastic-free, so we’re opting to smell like salad rather than pina coladas for the time being.

So what’s the olive oil feel like? It’s nice. Doesn’t dry up like water-based lube. You don’t need to use a lot. And smells great if you enjoy the smell of good olive oil, which I do. It’s runny, so you do have to be careful not to spill it all over the place. We put ours in a used pump bottle (yes, plastic, but reused and not PVC) but any kind of bottle with a narrow spout would work. And you can use it as massage oil at the same time. Whether or not it will have negative vaginal consequences down the line remains to be seen. For now, it’s working great.

Well, that was Part 1 of my Valentine’s Day sex posts. Hope it wasn’t TMI, but I did warn you. Stay tuned for Part 2. And as always, your feedback is welcome!

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10 years ago

hmm well i dont have to worry about this yet *blush*
coconut oil just sounds nicer though and more tropical so i suppose thats what i will use when the time comes.

One question though, wont it wreck your sheets?
i put jojoba oil on my face to reduce dry skin and i cant put it on before bed or it will wreck my pillow, and our dryer says do not put anything that ever had oil on it in the dryer or it could start a fire.

so what do u do about this (assuming the aforementioned activities are taking place in a bed)

Beth Terry
10 years ago
Reply to  liz

I haven’t had any problems with it wrecking sheets. We don’t use that much — a little goes a long way. Also, I know people who use coconut oil as deodorant. You would think it would make their clothes greasy, but apparently, it is absorbed by the skin and doesn’t ruin clothing either.

Ms. Grant
11 years ago

My husband and I have been using extra light virgin olive oil as a sexual lubricant regularly for quite some time. It’s cheaper, paraben-free and does not dry as fast as commercial personal lubricants. I have never tried any of the other suggestions above, but I will now!

sarah v.
11 years ago

Here’s the study. My fertility doctor told me about it. He said I should stop using regular lubricants and use Preseed or canola oil aka. rapeseed oil. Since Preseed is full of chemy grossness it was an easy choice to use canola oil when we need it.

sarah v.
11 years ago

There was a study done using olive oil, coconut, and canola oil as lubricants to see if it inhibited sperm reaching it’s destination. Canola oil was sperm safe and I’m assuming all the oils mentioned in the study are vagina safe or else they wouldn’t have used them in the first place.

11 years ago

We have been using just Vitamin E for years. We tried olive oil early on when saliva was giving me infections and had no problems with it, hubby just said he thought it smelled kinda strong and made him want to cook. So I thought of my vitamin E, which comes in a little glass bottle (with an annoying plastic top, which I replaced with a plastic pump top). You don’t need much, so even if you are intimate often, it will last a long time. And it’s healing too – I haven’t had a single infection since.
Bravo for your willingness to tackle any topic, Beth!

11 years ago

I agree with the silliness of our brainwashing here. The “proper lubes” doctor made me laugh.
I’ve been married for under a year and a half, and we spontaneously have used cooking oil the whole time – starting with olive oil, because it seemed more pure and pristine, somehow, then switching to vegetable oil because it’s so much cheaper, and really, what’s the difference? With veg oil I guess you have to contend with potential GMO corn or soy. But absolutely, hands-down, this is a better choice than the chemicals in commercial lubes. Before our wedding, I was browsing the choices at the pharmacy, and none of them seemed like the kind of thing I’d want near the delicate parts of my body, yknow?

12 years ago

Olive oil has been used by midwives for centuries for aid during crowning, lubricating, and supporting the perineum during labor. I can’t imagine it would cause any problems for sex. And, from personal experience, it never has for us. It’s funny how brain-washed we are in favor of some commercial chemical concoction because it has been “sterilized.”

Beth Terry
12 years ago

Hi Sylvia. So far no infections. And we’ve been using this method for over a year!

Digital Scales
12 years ago

I wish there was a little more research on the olive oil… I don’t know how safe it is for both parties. I can’t imagine what an infection that might cause!

14 years ago

I just stumbled across this post and I applaud the talk of using a natural product to increase sexy-time goodness! My only question is the use of olive oil, coconut oil, etc, with the NuvaRing. I wonder if there would be some sort of reaction since it is made of plastic (a whole other concern, I know). Any ideas?

14 years ago

I agree–coconut oil is great. It has a yeast-fighting property too. Melts at 75 degrees (very convenient except in summer).

I think you should never put something on your skin that you wouldn’t put in your mouth.

14 years ago

Even better (imo) is coconut oil- less “I’m cooking italian food!” and more sexynummy. Plus its lighter and smells great! Same issue w/condoms as olive oil- don’t use the 2 together. Also, a friend of mine said to soak flax seeds for a while and it’ll gel up and create a great lube. You’d obviously have to strain it before using! Haven’t tried that one, but sounds fun!

terrible person
14 years ago

The question is, what lube does Popeye the Sailor Man use with his girlfriend?

14 years ago

Beth-this just cracked me up! I thought I was racey on my post about 10 tips to make your valentines hot and green! I checked out the lube that I reccommended and sure enough, it was in plasic. Maybe you can write them a letter about changing to glass bottles. It was from the company, Good Clean Love.

What is great about your idea is it right in the pantry!!! Anna

14 years ago

Man, that doctor was one smarmy condescending guy. Before making a food choice, I like to ask myself, “would my grandmother eat this?” I think the same question pertains here, but since the idea of thinking about my grandma that way is reprehensible, I’d like to think, “what would a woman who was sexually active in 1919 use?” I think the answer would be cooking oil. However, I’ve got some already-bought stuff and new sheets, and no boyfriend at the moment, so it might be a while before I try out this one.

PS – this is my first time on the site, I came via Allie’s Answers.

14 years ago

Hi Beth-

I think I’ll remain anonymous on this one… I know I’m violating rule #3… :) Anyway, to be honest I’ve never ever used a lubricant… I find that as long as I’m getting enough foreplay I’m naturally all lubed up… And if for some reason I’m not then saliva works wonders… I had no idea lubricant was such a popular product… But hey if olive oil works for you then I say go for it!

just ducky
14 years ago

Um…well…(blush)…so…yeah…(fidget)…(cough)…(clear throat)…nevermind…

Shannon Hodgins
14 years ago

My husband is from Greece and it’s something he says that has been used for thousands of years. I haven’t yet tried it, but I may have to take him up on it after reading this post.

P.S. I meantioned you in my lastest post, but I couldn’t figure out how to link the dang thing from a You-Tube. Durn! Your blog is an inspiration. Thanks!!! Shannon

Low Impact Home
14 years ago

Wow Beth…way to let it all hang out! My husband and I have been squeezing the life out of our lube tube trying to make sure that we get every last drop. I have been looking around for a plastic free alternative, it’s good that someone like you is willing to talk about this stuff!

14 years ago

Kinda makes me blush to think about putting it on my pasta now…

14 years ago

Amanda… that’s the stuff I use! (Pink, that is). I like that the bottle is glass. It’s thick, too… I’ve dropped it (slippery) several times without breaking!

har mar
14 years ago

and i’ll never be the same now!

14 years ago

Beth, can I just say that I LOVE that you linked to Skin Deep in a post about lube?! My colleague, looking over my shoulder, said “Wait a second — do we review lube?”

I don’t know if they still sell it this way, but you used to be able to get Pink silicone lube (not EWG tested, but theoretically inert and hence safe for both people and latex) in a glass bottle (albeit with a plastic pump top).

14 years ago

My gynecologist recommends vegetable oil (not olive, but there probably isn’t much difference, and vegetable is cheaper so it’s what she recommends) to EVERYONE… especially people who are trying to conceive, since there are no chemicals and it is completely safe. She mentioned this when I mentioned struggling with glycerin based lubes due to uncontrollable yeast infections.

I’ve been too nervous to take her up on it… I use a silicone one that comes in a GLASS bottle instead (but it still has a plastic pump).

However… it’s a DOCTOR recommending it… and she is NOT a “green” or “all natural” doctor! She’s an GYN at the local hospital’s women’s clinic! Not that that makes her more or less of a reference… but it’s somewhat mainstream.

Anyway… if the olive oil for some reason gives a weird reaction, switch to vegetable oil! Doctor’s orders.

14 years ago

I’ve been using almond oil or grapeseed oil for about 6 years now without any negative side effects. If you want to add a little zing put a drop or two or mint or cimmanom essential oil in it. (Found that in a book on natural skin care, just don’t use more than a drop or two)

14 years ago

::Grabbing a bowl of popcorn and pulling up a chair to now watch YOUR blog detiorate into the depths of depravity. Hoping for a good show::

Hot lips
14 years ago

Saliva is the natural lubricant of choice here (but not after eating hot peppers!).

14 years ago

Ahh…so much to say.

First of all, nothing wrong with using an oil that no one is allergic to as a food, but it does wreck toys and condoms, and it can seal in germs, causing out breaks of yeast, or gardnerella or encourage a nesting STI.

Secondly, I make two kinds of natural water based lube. Basically, one adds water to slippery elm bark powder. One can also use vegetable glycerine, or combine the two. The slippery elm is nourishing and healing to mucous membranes, tastes good, but looks brown. The vegetable glycerine is pristine in its clarity, and sweet to taste, but unfortunately can feed hordes of yeast if you are at all prone. Both work just fine with condoms, especially combined. You can preserve them with a bit of vitamin E. It helps to shake before use, and use a glass bottle with a pump head. And it costs only $4 for the equivalent of a $20 bottle of toxic waste.