Oral sex is a great addition to the bedroom repetoire. But when a person is diagnosed with an STD, such as herpes or genital warts, it can put a damper on things down under. Fortunately, there are ways to still enjoy oral sex even if you have contracted a permanent STD. Dental dams and sex dams are good ways to protect yourself and your partner from spreading unwanted STDs while still achieving the Big O.

What is a Dental Dam?

Dental dams, also referred to as vaginal dams or oral barriers, are a popular tool used for safe oral sex. It’s a thin six-inch square crafted from latex and is used as a barrier between the vagina, or anus, and the mouth. It’s a resourceful measure to prevent the spread of sexual transmitted diseases and other infections from anal or vaginal secretions.

Fun fact - in Germany, a dental dam is called a das Lecktuch, which roughly translates to lick sheet. In France, the name for the dam is la digue dentaire.

How Do I Use One?

The latex square is placed across the vagina or anus to prevent the exchange of bodily fluids while oral sex is taking place. It’s very simple to use. Before using it, rinse it under warm water and allow the dam to air dry. After it’s thoroughly dried, place the dam across the anus or vagina. Never stretch the dam. If it is not big enough, seek an alternative.

Some dental dams are made with adhesive strips that will help hold it in place, but it can also be held in place by one partner using water-based lubricant so that it does not slide. Be sure the lubricant is water-based, as you are likely to ingest some of it. While you're there you can also massage your partner’s inner thighs while holding the dental dam. This is sure to drive them wild.

If you want extra protection during tribbing (rubbing your genitals against that of your partners) women can craft a tribbing harness from dental dams. Dam holders are available for purchase in some specialty shops.

Dental dams get a bad rep from some folks because they think the latex sheet will reduce the physical stimulation from the tongue. While the feeling will differ a bit, it does not interfere with stimulation or the normal enjoyment attained from oral sex.

Sex Dam

If you prefer something thinner and even a bit silkier, opt for a sex dam. A sex dam generally runs bigger than dental dams, much thinner and come in a variety of flavors and colors (personally, our favorite flavor is cherry). Unlike some condoms that have a powdery surface and are not suitable for oral contact or dental dams that are extremely clinical, sex dams are a perfect alternative. They are usually scented to hide the smell of the latex, are extremely transparent so that you can easily see the goods, and make it fun for everyone involved.

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Alternatives

If you don't have a purchased oral barrier, you can easily make one of your own using a condom. Be sure to use a condom that is free of spermicidal lubricant, as you will be putting your mouth on it. To make an oral barrier using a condom:

  1. Take the condom out of the package and unroll it

  2. Cut off the tip of the condom

  3. Cut off the base

  4. Cut down one side

Now you have a square piece of latex that can be used as a barrier.

Another alternative can be made using a disposable latex glove. To do this:

  1. Cut off the fingers

  2. Cut off the base around the wrist cuff

  3. Cut along the thumb side of the palm -- leave the thumb in tact

Now you should have a barrier with a bonus thumb handle. If you have cuts, torn cuticles, or bitten nails, you can use the finger pieces that you cut off for added protection. Just wear them like a finger condom!

Some other people even choose to use non-microwavable plastic wrap (Saran Wrap) in lieu of a dental dam. While it hasn’t been studied deeply, there is some evidence that non-microwavable plastic wrap can stop virus-sized particles. Female condoms can also be used as protection during oral sex.

Precautions

While dental dams and sex dams will help to protect you from contracting STDs during oral sex, there are still a couple of precautions you need to take while using one. You should never share the same dam. Once it is used once, it should be disposed of immediately. Also, if you are performing oral-vaginal and oral-anal sex, you should use separate dams. This guarantees that no harmful bacteria are transferred from the anus to the vagina, and vice versa. Nobody wants to get a yeast infection as a result of having oral sex - just an orgasm.

Frankly, My Dear, We Do Give a Dam

Dental and sex dams can be sexy. Explore your options and have some fun finding what works best for you and your partner. With plenty of variety in color and flavor, the only problem you’ll run into is choosing!