Condoms and Dental Dams
A condom is a thin sheath or
"skin" of latex or polyurethane which fits over
the erect penis. It prevents the escape of ejaculated
semen during vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse or manual
play. Condoms are available in various shapes, colors,
and flavors. Some may opt for specialty condoms which
have pleasure ribs, bumps, and reservoir tips. Non-lubricated
or flavored condoms can and should be used during oral
sex to protect against STDs.
Condoms come with expiration dates and must be kept away from heat. Condoms which are still "good" should have an air bubble in the package. If either the package or the condom is flat, cracked or looks dried, the condom should not be used. Lubricants like K-Y Jelly should be used with condoms. A condom should be used only once and then it should be discarded.
For highest effectiveness, condoms should always be used with a vaginal spermicide. There are a number of insertable spermicides-creams, jellies, suppositories, sponges, and foam, all of which are intended to block the cervix and kill sperm. Effectiveness varies greatly. These products are often labeled unclearly, and it is not always possible to be sure whether they are meant to be. Vaginal contraceptives are most effective when used with some form of barrier method such as a condom and should never be used alone.
Another important part of
safer sex practices is the dental dam. The dental dam is
a square piece of thin latex, much like the latex in
condoms, that is used to prevent the transmission of STDs
when oral sex is performed on a woman. When used, the
dental dam is stretched across a womans vagina to
prevent exchange of bodily fluids. The dental dam itself
is not lubricated, but using a water-based lubricant on
the vagina side of the dental dam may be useful in
helping to keep it in place, and to increase feeling.
Although it has not been established that the HIV virus
can be transmitted during vaginal oral sex, many other
diseases can be transmitted from mouth to vagina or vice-versa,
including herpes and genital warts.
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