Watch Your Mouth! Protecting yourself during oral sex

oral sex protection tipsWe’ve received requests for more info about condoms that are made specifically for oral sex, as well as other safer oral sex methods.  Indeed, the know-how in this area is not as wide known as it should be.  People are less likely to protect themselves during oral sex…even among those cautious sexers who use condoms consistently.  Perhaps this is because some do not consider oral sex to be “real sex” and thus think it’s less risky.  But the fact is that oral sex is sex (some prefer it to genital sex) and many diseases and infections you can catch or transmit through intercourse you can also get through oral sex, regardless of whether you swallow or not.  As one of our readers pointed out, HPV (the most common STI in the USA today) is often transmitted during oral sex (these are some good sources for more info on HPV: HPV AwakeningScarleteen, SEX,etc.).  So in this post we go through safer oral sex practices and how to find the right method for yourself.

To reduce the risk of STIs, you can use latex or non-latex barriers.  For fellatio (oral sex with penis) use a condom.  For cunnilingus and analingus use dental dams, latex or nitrile gloves, or plastic wrap (but remember, not the microwaveable wrap!).

Fellatio and Condoms Options

A condom for safe oral sex can be perfectly satisfying should the right condom be used according to your tastes and needs.  First of all, do not use condoms or lubricants made with spermicide, such as nonoxynol-9 which can numb your tongue.  And do not use any condoms designed to “extend” male performance, such as Trojan’s Extended Pleasure, as these are made with not-so-tasty benzocaine that will leave an unpleasant sensation in your mouth.  Choose condoms that are water-based (most condoms are) or choose a non-lubricated condom.

For those who do not like the taste of latex or have a latex allergy, there are many non-latex options on the market made of polyisoprene or polyurethane (lambskin does not protect against STIs so do not use them for oral sex!).  These non-latex condoms are virtually odorless and tasteless.  However, most non-latex are difficult to buy in stores or pharmacies; but online stocks are varied and plenty.

Flavored condoms or lubricants are also a good option.  You can buy multipacks to determine your favorite flavor and there are usually small sample packs of lube available at sex-shops.  But be sure to use a lubricant that is compatible with the condom material- oil-based lubes cannot be used with latex or polyisoprene.  There are also flavored gel strips, like Masque, which simply dissolves on your tongue like a candy and the flavor lasts for up to 15 minutes.

Dental Dames and Barriers

If you are giving or receiving oral sex from mouth to vulva (outside of vagina) or mouth to anus there are various barrier methods to protect from STIs: Dental dams or making your own barrier from condoms, gloves, or plastic wrap.

A dental dam is a thin rectangle-shaped sheet used for cunnilingus or analingus to protect against sexually transmitted infections during oral sex.  Like condoms, dental dams are typically made with latex, polyurethane or polyisoprene.  There are flavored dams, colored dams, dams that you hold in place, and non-slip no-hold dams. Unfortunately, dental dams are not as readily accessible in pharmacies and retail stores.  This is part of an all too common and dangerous oversight in safe sex inventory.  Often female safe sex products or non-penetrative sex products are placed secondary to condoms and are not as easily accessible.  This is another advantage to shopping online.  Sexual health clinics, such as Planned Parenthood also supply dental dams.

If you and/or your partner are concerned that oral sex will not feel as amazing with a protective barrier, take some advise from Heather Corinna at Scarleteen.com, and put a few drops (not too many!) of lubricant on the genitals of the receiver before putting on the barrier.  This will keep the material from sticking and will increase sensitivity and sensation immensely.

Check out this pamphlet for more information about STIs and diseases that the dental dam protects against.

If you find dental dams too tricky to get a hold of or not the right material/shape for you, you should try making a barrier just for you or your partner using a condom or glove.

These are some excellent sources for step-by-step instructions on how to make a dental dam from condoms or gloves: YouShouldKnow.caSTD.about.com, PAMF.org.

Hopefully this information will help you receive and perform safer oral sex. If you have any further questions or even some extra tips / experiences to share then please leave a comment below.

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