Virgin Coconut Oil in Paste Form as Treatment for Dyspareunia and Vaginal Dryness in Patients With and Without Rheumatic Autoimmune Diseases: An Efficacy and Safety Assessment Pilot Study.

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Introduction The use of virgin coconut oil (VCO) as an over-the-counter (OTC) treatment for vaginal dryness and dyspareunia (VDD) in the general population has increased worldwide despite the absence of evidence-based studies supporting its efficacy. The principal objective of our pilot study was to scientifically validate the significant benefits and safety of using intra- and peri-vaginal application of VCO in paste form (VCOPF) for the treatment of VDD in patients with and without rheumatic autoimmune diseases (RAD). Additionally, multiple psychosocial, sexuality, and disease activity variables were also assessed. Methods A survey study of patients with chronic VDD, with and without RAD, treated with a single proprietary brand of VCOPF via the 'CocoRelief' protocol continuously for at least six months in an outpatient rheumatology practice setting. We evaluated the comparison of group characteristics, treatment outcomes, and satisfaction questions by Fisher's exact test or chi-square test for independence for categorical variables and two-sample t-tests for continuous variables. Results Of the 53 respondents, 31 (58%) had an RAD and 22 (42%) did not. Rheumatoid arthritis and primary Sjogren's syndrome comprised 75% of the RAD group. The non-RAD cohort had both a higher baseline mean of intercourse pain (on a scale of 0-5) before VCOPF use (4.4 (SD 1.1) vs 3.9 (SD 1.0) (p = 0.094)) and a higher mean intercourse pain after VCOPF (2.0 (SD 1.3) vs 1.3 (SD 1.1) (p = 0.039)). VDD decreased by 55% in the non-RAD and 66% in the RAD population. Although not statistically significant (p = 0.195), VCOPF was at worst comparable to estrogen-containing therapies (ECT). No adverse events (AE) were documented. Conclusion A high percentage of women with VDD, with and without RAD, needlessly continue to experience quality-of-life-altering physical and psychosocial morbidity due to the underutilization and lack of awareness of VCO-containing therapy. The small sample size, non-blinded, non-randomized, pilot platform, and the use of a non-validated assessment tool represent the principal limiting factors. This study revealed that VCOPF, when used in paste form via the CocoRelief protocol, provided statistically significant long-term VDD-related efficacy not inferior to ECT without AE in patients with and without RAD. VCOPF is, therefore, likely to be a useful, cost-effective alternative in a substantial percentage of patients with and without RAD, particularly in women hesitant to utilize ECT due to cost and/or fear of adverse effects.

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