Using Dental Dams
Latex barriers called dental dams are flat squares of latex rubber that can be used for safer oral sex. Alternatives to dental dams include non-microwavable saran wrap or a square made from a non-lubricated condom (cut off tip of condom and cut condom lengthwise). Any of these can be placed against the vagina or anus during mouth-to-vagina or mouth-to-anus sex. When used correctly during oral sex, latex barriers can help prevent the spread of many sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) including HIV. Store latex barriers in a cool, dry place, since heat can damage latex.
- Handle the latex barrier (dental dam) carefully so it does not rip.
- Hold the latex barrier firmly with both hands. Place the barrier over the vagina or anus.
- Be sure to keep one side toward you and one side toward your partner. Don't forget which side is which.
- For extra lubrication, use a water-based lubricant. Do not use oil-based products such as lotion or baby oil, since oil can weaken the latex.
- Never use the same latex barrier more than once. When finished, throw the barrier away.
For information on free and low cost STD testing and treatment services in Los Angeles County, call the STD Hotline at 1-800-758-0880 or visit our STD Testing & Services section.