• Use protection. Condoms and dental dams can both help prevent STI transmission.
• Have “the talk.” Discuss when you each were last tested for STIs, and what the results were.
You can enjoy giving or getting head while also protecting yourself from STIs.
OB/GYN, creator of The ME Spot Podcast
— Heather Bartos, MD
People don’t think much about protection during oral, but both condoms and dental dams are great tools for STI prevention.
You may be less familiar with dental dams than condoms. These are sheets of latex or polyurethane that create a barrier between the mouth and the vulva or anus.
Like condoms, they greatly reduce, but don't eliminate, the possibility of STI transmission.
Unlike condoms, they don’t double as birth control.
Certified sex and dating coach
— MYISHA BATTLE
You can ditch the barriers for oral sex. But it's a good idea for you and your partner to get tested for STIs, learn your results, and discuss whether protection during oral is necessary.
If one of you has an STI, you can discuss options for protection based on the STI and your risk tolerance, Battle says. When one person has herpes, for example, some couples may choose to use a condom or dental dam during outbreaks.
How to use a dental dam
Lay the dam across the vulva or anus before performing oral sex, like a little latex throw blanket.
“You may need to hold it to make sure it stays in place during oral sex,” Battle says.
• You can make them, using a condom.
• Many sex shops will sell dental dams, both online and in person. Battle recommends smaller shops like Good Vibrations or Smitten Kitten.