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Vitamin E oil in your vagina? Let's talk about this for a second

Charlotte Hilton Andersen is the author of the book The Great Fitness Experiment: One Year of Trying Everything and runs the popular health and fitness website of the same name, where she tries out a new workout every month, specializing...

One expert says vitamin E oil can strengthen vaginal tissue — huh?

After conquering the style frontiers of 1,000-count sheets and $700 pajamas, it's about time Goop started giving out sex advice. Maybe?

"Lube is super toxic and we are putting it into the most vulnerable and permeable part of our bodies." With that pronouncement by Gwyneth Paltrow in her Goop newsletter, you could almost hear the sound of millions of bottles hitting garbage cans in homes around the nation.

She has a point. Many sex lubricants are filled with unpronounceable ingredients including some known carcinogens, like parabens. But, as any woman who has ever had to deal with another kind of point in the bedroom (ahem), lube is as necessary to good sex as a flat iron is to Gwyneth's style routine — which is to say it's worth its weight in (pube) hair.

So what's a health-conscious, sex-loving lady to do? Goop recommends some pricey (of course) natural formulations along with things like cycling ("it increases blood flow to the pelvic floor"), lots of foreplay, drinking a ton of water and eating more omega-3 fatty acids. But she also offers this: "Topically you can apply vitamin E oil or olive oil to the labia to help moisturize and strengthen the vaginal tissue."

Well, this certainly gives "mission in the kitchen" a whole new meaning! But is using a natural oil for lube really a good idea? (I mean sure, Gwyneth swears by it but this is also the same woman who recommended buying $125,000 gold-plated dumbbells. Gold. Plated. Dumbbells.) 

More: Gwyneth Paltrow's gift guide raises some serious eyebrows

If it’s safe to eat, it’s probably safe to use on your lady bits, says Annette Hetzel, M.S., R.N., a public health and sex educator. “People have been doing it for centuries so as long as you don’t mind cleaning oil stains out of your sheets I don’t see a problem,” she says. (Although she adds that she is not sure how it could "strengthen" your vaginal tissue so take that part with a grain of salt.)

But before you raid your pantry, she adds, there are two very important caveats.

First up is the risk of infection. Natural oils including vitamin E, olive, almond and coconut can build up inside your labial folds, she says. Left there it can go rancid, causing bad smells, leakage and even vaginal or urinary tract infections. And don't believe all the hype around coconut oil — even though it does have some antibiotic properties, it cannot protect you against sexually transmitted diseases or any other type of infection.

Second, any oil or oil-based lubricant can break down latex condoms leading them to break or slip off. If you're trying to prevent a pregnancy, this could be a huge problem. On the flip side, she adds that oil can also slow down sperm, so if you're actively trying to get pregnant, you might want to skip the oil as well.

More: New glow condoms will light up at the sign of an STD

Short version: If you're not worried about pregnancy or stained sheets and are fastidious with your vulva hygiene, then feel free to do a little culinary experimenting in the bedroom! At the very least, you'll end up with silky smooth thighs.

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