Dental Dams

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If someone is sexually active, they might be at risk of getting or spreading a STI, or Sexually Transmitted Infection. The highest number of new STI cases are among youth and young adults 15-24. That’s why it’s important to know how to protect yourself. When it comes to oral sex, it is important to remember that while it cannot cause a pregnancy, it can spread STIs. Using a barrier method, like a condom or dental dam, protects against STIs. They are called a barrier method because they create a physical barrier between the bodies or fluids of two people.  For any type of sex involving a penis, an external condom can be used to protect against pregnancy and/or STIs. However, for oral sex on a vulva, or the exterior part of a vagina, or anus a dental dam can be used.

What is a dental dam?

A dental dam is a thin latex sheet that goes over the genitals during oral sex to prevent spreading STIs through bodily fluids. To use a dental dam, simply hold it over the genitals, making sure to cover the entire area. Dental damns are one time use only and should be thrown away after use. It is also important to make sure to only use one side. Flipping the dental dam over can expose the fluids from one person to the other.

Where do I find a dental dam?

You may be able to find a dental dam at a clinic or pharmacy near you but they can be harder to find then condoms.

What if I can’t find one?

Since dental dams can be harder to find, lean how to make one! All you need is a condom and scissors.  While condoms and scissors do not go together, this is one exception. To make a dental dam out of a condoms, follow these steps:

  1. Check the package of the condom for any damage, check the expiration date, and push the condom aside to feel for the air bubble.
  2. Carefully open the condom and take it out of the package
  3. Using the scissors, snip off the tip of the condom. You may find it easier to unroll it slightly. This will leave you with a ring of latex.
  4. Cut through the latex ring
  5. Unroll the condom

 

Now you have a dental dam!  Remember to throw it away after use.

Want to practice making dental dams? Find free condoms near you! And remember that getting tested for STIs is another important way you can protect yourself and your partner. Find a clinic to get tested.

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