It is important to use barrier methods, such as male condoms and dental dams, during oral sex. This reduces the chances of transmitting and contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Oral sex is when a person stimulates the penis, vagina, or anus with their mouth.

This article will discuss what oral sex condoms are, how to choose and use them, and how effective they are.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) note it is possible to contract an STI in the throat and mouth from giving oral sex.

It is also possible to contract an STI on the genitals from receiving oral sex.

The following STIs can spread via oral sex:

Learn more about STIs that spread through oral sex here.

Planned Parenthood note that barrier methods, such as dental dams and condoms, reduce the chance of transmitting and contracting STIs. This is because they protect people against skin-to-skin contact and bodily fluids.

There are two main methods of protection when receiving or giving oral sex:

  • the male condom, which goes over the penis
  • a dental dam, which goes over the vaginal opening or the anus

Male condoms

Condoms are thin and stretchy pouches that go over a person’s penis just before they engage in oral, vaginal, or anal sex.

Planned Parenthood note there are many different types of condoms, including latex, plastic, and lambskin, with varying sizes and textures.

While latex and plastic condoms help prevent the spread of STIs, lambskin condoms are not effective.

Dental dams

Dental dams are thin latex or plastic sheets that people place over the vaginal opening or the anus in preparation for oral sex.

If a person cannot find any dental dams, it is possible to make one using a male condom.

A person can also make a dental dam with an internal condom, also known as a female condom. These are an alternative to male condoms. Instead of placing these on a penis, people can insert them into the vagina or anus.

When people use male condoms or dental dams, it is important to follow all instructions on the packaging.

If a person believes they are using a protection method in the wrong way, it is best to throw the condom or dental dam away and use a new one.

Male condoms

Putting on a male condom may take practice. Some people may prefer to practice putting a condom on their penis, a banana, or another phallic object before engaging in oral sex.

People should always put a condom on before the penis comes into contact with another person’s mouth or genital area, including the:

  • upper thighs
  • vulva
  • vagina
  • anus

Before using a condom, a person should check the expiration date to ensure that it is not out of date.

To use a condom correctly, a person should follow these steps:

  1. Open the packet carefully to avoid damaging the condom.
  2. Ensure the condom’s orientation is correct: it should look similar to a small hat and unroll easily. Do not reuse one that a person has put on inside out.
  3. Pinch the tip of the condom and place it on the head of the erect penis.
  4. Unroll the condom down the penis until it reaches the base of the shaft.

To remove a condom, a person should hold the rim of the condom and pull the penis away from their sexual partner while still erect.

They should then remove the condom, ensuring no semen gets on the other person, and throw it in the bin.

It is important not to reuse condoms. Use a fresh condom each time before performing a sexual act. For example, a person should put on a new condom when transitioning from oral sex to penetrative sex.

Dental dams

Before using a dental dam, people should carefully open the packaging, ensuring that it is not damaged or torn.

The dental dam should cover the vaginal opening, including the labia and the clitoris, or over the anus.

After use, people should throw the dental dam away and not reuse them.

If a person does not have a dental dam or cannot find one to buy, it is possible to make a dental dam from a condom.

The CDC note that this may be as effective as a dental dam, providing the condom is latex or plastic.

To make a dental dam out of a condom, people should:

  1. Carefully open the condom package and unroll the condom.
  2. Using scissors, cut off the top and bottom of the condom.
  3. Cut vertically along one side of the condom, turning it into a square.
  4. Lay the cut condom flat and use this to cover the vaginal opening or the anus.

There are many different condoms available to purchase.


Latex dental dams and male condoms are available.

According to a 2020 article, people who use these types of condoms should only use water-based lubricants. This is because oil-based lubricants make latex condoms more likely to break.

Latex condoms can last up to 5 years. If the condom comes with spermicide, it usually lasts 2 years before going out of date.

Latex alternatives

For those who have a latex allergy, synthetic polyurethane condoms and dental dams are available.

People can use water and oil-based lubricants with polyurethane condoms.

However, people should avoid lambskin condoms as they are not effective at preventing STIs.

Other considerations

An important consideration is finding the right size of condom to use. Planned Parenthood note that because condoms are very stretchy, most people will fit into a standard size.

Learn more about how to find the right condom size here.

Some dental dams and condoms may come in different flavors. While it is not necessary to buy a flavored condom, some people may prefer them.

Some condoms may come pre-lubricated or have a small sachet of lubricant in the packaging.

Male condoms and dental dams are effective at preventing the spread of STIs if people use them correctly.

The 2020 research notes that condoms effectively prevent the transmission of STIs, especially those that spread from the urethra of the penis. These STIs include gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomonas, hepatitis B, and HIV.

Condoms are also effective against the transmission of STIs that spread via skin and mucus membranes, such as herpes, syphilis, and genital warts.

Dental dams and condoms will only prevent the transmission of these STIs where they cover the skin.

There is little research on how effective dental dams are at preventing the spread of STIs.

However, when a person uses them correctly, they can help reduce the chance of transmitting and contracting STIs.

Learn more about which STIs dental dams can protect against here.

According to the CDC, the following can reduce the effectiveness of condoms:

  • heat and friction, such as storing a condom packet in a wallet
  • using a spermicide known as nonoxynol-9
  • using oil-based lubricants, such as baby oil or lotion, as this can cause condom breakage
  • using more than one condom at the same time
  • reusing a condom

The following can reduce the efficacy of dental dams:

  • reusing a dental dam
  • stretching a dental dam, as this can cause tearing
  • using nonoxynol-9
  • using oil-based lubricants, such as baby oil or lotion, as this can cause dental dam breakage

Lubricant helps reduce friction, making it less likely that the skin will tear or condoms will break, preventing the spread of STIs.

While most male condoms come with lubricant, people can put more on the condom or their penis.

It is important to use the right type of lubricant. If people use latex-based protection, it is vital to avoid using oil-based lubricants, as this can degrade the condom or dental dam and make it more likely they will break.

Different types of lubricants include:

  • water-based
  • oil-based
  • silicone-based

Oral sex is the act of stimulating the genitals or anus with the mouth.

While STIs can spread through oral sex, a person can use dental dams and condoms to help prevent this from occurring.