Using a dental dam for safe oral sex
To dam or not to dam—asks no lesbian ever. Well, maybe not ever. But, do you know any queer woman who actually uses a dental dam? We think that women, in this day and age, should know how to practice safe sex. More importantly, everyone should be aware of the available options for protection and disease prevention.
Lesbians commonly practice oral sex. Like any other sexual activities, when you do it without protection, you run the risk of contracting sexually related diseases. This is why it is important that you know the available options when it comes to practicing safe oral sex. One is to use a dental dam.
What is a dental dam?
A dental dam is a square of rubber, latex, or other non-permeable material about 8” by 6” to 10” by 8” in size. It is used as a barrier or protection so there is no direct mouth-to-genital or mouth-to-anus contact during oral sex.
It’s named as such because originally, it was made for dental procedures to protect the mouth when doing dental work on an isolated tooth. Thinner ones were later on created specifically for oral sex purposes.
Dental dam comes in different flavors like vanilla, strawberry, mint, and banana. They come in different colors too, usually matching their flavors.
You can buy dental dams from at pretty much anywhere regular condoms are sold. They’re available at pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS and online retailers like Amazon and Condom Depot. They are also available at some specialty condom stores and sex shops.
Here’s a fun and accurate video of queer women explaining dental dams from BuzzFeed:
Is a dental dam necessary?
The risk of acquiring STIs is low in women who have sex with women compared to men with men and men with women. Of course, “low” risk doesn’t mean “no” risk.
Unprotected sexual practices pose a significant risk since they involve skin to skin contact and exchange of bodily fluids. Therefore, you need protection to prevent transmission of body fluids and guard you against virus and bacteria.
In 2008, a survey by Stonewall revealed that majority of the lesbians and bisexual women who were checked for STIs were tested positive.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a Fact Sheet about STD Risk and Oral Sex, which states that sexually related diseases– including Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Herpes, Syphilis, HPV, HIV, and Trichomoniasis– can be transmitted during oral sex. CDC recommends the use of a condom, dental dam, and other barrier methods during oral sex to lower the chances of giving or getting sexually transmitted diseases.
To use condoms as an alternative to dental dams, you just need to cut it into a rectangular strip. There are those who say that Saran (plastic) wrap can also be used as an alternative. Some don’t recommend it because it’s uncertain how effective and safe they are.
It is advisable to use barrier protection when you don’t know the sexual health status or history of your partner, especially on hookups and if your partner is bisexual. Of course, it’s a good practice to regularly get tested and know your own sexual health status, whether you use barrier protection or not.
How does one use a dental dam?
- Check the expiration date.
- Unwrap the dental dam.
- Hold the dam in place over the genital or anal area during oral sex.
- Some recommend placing lube on the side of the receiver to enhance sensation.
- Don’t flip over and have your mouth in contact with the side exposed to body fluids.
- Use it only once. Dispose of it immediately after use.
Do lesbians actually use them?
Nobody has dental dams in their bedside drawers. Many don’t even know what a dental dam is. Barrier protection for oral sex never became popular, may it be to gay or straight men and women. And it isn’t just because they’re awkward to use and so unsexy.
Since the common notion is that oral sex is safer than certain types of penetrative sex, people perceive it to have no threat to their health, especially to women who have sex with women. As a result, lesbians rarely use any type of protection during oral sex.
Maybe if people are more informed about the risks of oral sex, lesbians will give greater importance to protecting their sexual health. Also, if people know the benefits of using protection, more lesbians will consider using a dental dam or other barrier methods. Or maybe it’s time for someone to produce a better option that’s prettier and sexier and designed especially for women and not for dental procedures.