Dams are a protective barrier that can be used for oral sex on the female genitals or on the anus. Dams are made out of either latex or polyurethane. They are on the expensive side, approximately $2.00-$3.00 for one, but are an excellent safer sex barrier and well worth the cost!
Oral sex is low risk. Why would I bother using a dam?
Although oral sex is a relatively low risk activity, there are still some situations where using a dam can reduce risk, and add to pleasure:
- Using a dam when one partner or the other is having a herpes outbreak prevents the skin of the mouth from coming in contact with the skin of the genitals or anus
- Using a dam creates a barrier from menstrual blood
- If a dam is used for analingus (oral anal sex) it prevents any bacteria from entering the mouth of the partner stimulating the anus
- Using a dam with some lubricant can provide a different sensation with oral sex that can be very pleasurable
Can dams be reused?
The technical answer to this question is no, however people do reuse them because they are expensive. If someone asks that question, we can refer them to the Sex Sense line for more information.
I’ve heard that people use plastic wrap instead of spending money on dams. Does it work?
Again, the technical answer is no. As plastic wrap has not been approved for the prevention of transmission of STI’s, we cannot endorse it as a barrier method. Non-microwavable plastic wrap is recommended in several resources, however, and people can be referred to those resources.
I can’t reuse them, they cost a lot of money and plastic wrap is a no-no. What’s another option?
Great question! You can actually turn a condom into a dam! Making a dental dam is very, very easy! All you need is a pair of scissors, an external condom and about 30 seconds. Here is how you do it:
- Carefully take the condom out of its package and unroll it.
- Cut off the tip and base of the condom and cut down the length of the tube
- Unroll the condom into a rectangular sheet.
- And that's it! You now have a highly effective dam to use for oral sex!
I find that I don’t have much sensation when my partner uses a dam. What can I do?
One of the recommendations we make is to put some lubricant on the side of the dam that is coming in contact with the genitals/anus. It makes the dam move and slide more, which tends to makes it more pleasurable for both partners. We can also recommend playing with the tension on the dam- pulling the dam tightly makes it thinner and also creates reverberations all over the dam. Just make sure not to let go and snap your partner!
I've heard of using gloves as a safer sex barrier. Why would I want to do that?
Latex and non-latex gloves can be a great addition to a safer sex kit. There are many reasons to use gloves:
- Hang nails, long nails, sharp nails, cuts, etc. don’t hurt your partner
- Dirty hands are easily covered by gloves (a must when camping!)
- Although the risk is quite low, any cuts on the hand/torn cuticles, etc. are covered and protected from skin and bodily fluids
- Gloves + lube= slippery smooth surface! And a fun, pleasurable new sensation
- Gloves change the sensations on the hand and the genitals!
- Gloves can also be used in a pinch as a barrier for oral sex
Where do I get all of these safer sex items?
A lot of drug stores have started to expand their safer sex items, and carry a variety of condoms, lubes, non-latex options, and some even have dams. Gloves are available in the medical supply section, as are finger cots (which are great for covering up a hang nail in a pinch!). Also, a lot of pleasure based sex stores like Womyn’s Ware and Art of Loving carry a variety of different options like vinyl or nitrile gloves, non-powdered latex gloves, non-latex dams, and sometimes even flavoured dams!
Where should I store them?
It can be difficult to keep all of your safer sex supplies in a convenient location. Putting together a “Pleasure Kit” ensures that you have everything you need in one place, and that you don’t have to run around trying to find condoms, lube, a dam, etc. Cookie tins make great storage boxes. “One” condoms (Global Protection) come in metal tins that are the perfect size for an overnight trip: it can be stuffed with a pair of gloves, a few condoms, a pillow pack or two of lube, and a dam!!
I’ve tried to use a dam, and found it really hard to keep in place! What can I do?
One of the safer sex geniuses at Womyn’s Ware has developed “Dam Right”, a dam garter! It has little clips to keep the dam in place, freeing up hands to do other things! The “Dam Right” seems to be made specifically for use during oral sex on a vulva, but most likely can be rigged for use for oral anal sex as well.
This is the last installment of the safer sex blogs for now, I hope you've enjoyed this information! If you have any questions about any of the information or any suggestions of things you would like to see written about, please email Dr Turner.