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Did You Know? PPIN’s Education Team Explains the Benefits of the Dental Dam

June 22, 2012

In the guest post below, Planned Parenthood of Indiana‘s (PPIN’s) new media and youth program specialist, Lizzy Bartelt, shares some helpful information about a form of contraception that may not be familiar to you.  Lizzy is a member of PPIN’s Sara and Albert Reuben Partners in Health Education team.  To learn more about our non-profit’s education efforts, please click here

As a sexuality educator, my job is to help people learn how they can make sex safer.  One barrier method that most people have never heard of is a dental dam.

What is a dental dam?  It is a barrier that you can place between you and your partner during either cunnilingus (mouth-to-vulva, a.k.a. “eating out”) or anilingus (mouth-to-anus, a.k.a. “rimming”).  This thin latex barrier (that can also be made of poly-urethane or nitrile) prevents fluids from being transmitted and makes sex safer for you and your partner.

Why is a dental dam so important?  Did you know that as of 2011, the leading cause of mouth and throat cancer is sexually transmitted infections (STIs), specifically human papillomavirus (HPV)?  For many years the leading cause of mouth and throat cancer was tobacco use, but no longer.  Having unprotected oral sex can have severe consequences.  Aside from HPV, most STIs can be transmitted through unprotected oral sex.

Are you afraid you won’t be able to find a dental dam?  They are, indeed, difficult to track down and typically can only be purchased in specialty shops or online.  Never fear, though!  You can get them from many of your local PPIN health centers.

Lizzy Bartelt, new media and youth program specialist for PPIN

Remember:  dental dams are not made for vaginal sex and will not protect you if used that way.  They come in flavors and should be used once per sex act.  Store them in a cool, dry place and make sure you check the expiration date.  If you are using lubricant, ensure that it is water-based (i.e., K-Y Jelly, Astroglide, water or saliva).

If you’ve had unprotected sex, be it oral, anal, or vaginal, it is important to get yourself tested.  Call 1-800-230-PLAN to schedule an appointment today!

More questions?  Go to https://www.ppin.org/forms/askme.php.

So, did you know about the dental dam?  Let us know in the Comments below, and be sure to pass this information along to your friends!  Have a great weekend.

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