We’re not talking about a dam as in a large body of water. The dam we’re referring to is a product that can be used during oral sex as a method to protect against getting, or passing on, sexually transmissible infections (STIs).
A dam is a thin, rectangular sheet of rubber (latex and non-latex varieties available) which acts as a barrier between the mouth and the vagina or anus during oral sex.
How do dams reduce the risk of STIs?
Oral sex has a fairly low risk of STIs, however, there is still some risk, particularly for STIs such as herpes (cold sores or genital sores), genital warts (HPV), chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis. Dams work by preventing skin-to-skin contact and the transfer of bodily fluids between partners.
When used correctly and every time during oral sex, dams can greatly reduce the risk of STIs.
How do you use a dam?
- Check the expiry date
- Take the dam out of the packet
- Before placing the dam on the vagina or anus, apply some water-based lube to the area if you want
- Lay the dam flat over the vagina or anus
- You’re now ready for oral sex!
- Hold the dam in place during oral sex, being careful not to stretch it
- After oral sex, put the dam in the bin (not down the toilet)
- Dams come in many flavours and colours
- Each dam can only be used once
- Keep the dam the same way during oral sex; do not flip it over
- Use a new dam if switching between oral sex on the anus to oral sex on the vagina to minimise the transfer of bacteria from the anus to vagina
- Using water-based lube on the side in contact with the vagina or anus may increase pleasure
- A dam can be used for oral sex activities only, not penetrative sex (penis in vagina or anus)
- Do not use plastic cling wrap as an alternative to a dam as some are porous (have microscopic holes) and viruses could still get through
Where can I find dams?
Dams are easily available from online stores, but you can also find them in Family Planning clinics, some sexual health clinics, and some chemists/pharmacies.
Are there any other options to dams for oral sex?
Condoms can be used for oral sex on a penis. Dams are the only specific available product for oral sex on a vagina or anus. However, if you are finding it hard to get dams, you can make a dam out of a condom.
- Unroll the condom completely
- Cut the tip off the condom
- Cut the base (ridge) off the condom
- Cut down one side of the condom
- Open the condom out so it is a rectangular sheet
- Use as you would a dam