Why the most overlooked prophylactic may finally make a dent in bedrooms across America
Things are getting hot and heavy, and you both stumble toward the bedroom. After getting naked, you start making your way downtown, moving fast. You then sit up and reach for the dental dam on the nightstand. What’s that? You don’t? Because “What’s a dental dam?”
If you’re unfamiliar with the unisex prophylactic known as a dental dam, you’re among the majority of sexual beings. Dental dams are thin latex squares you place over a vagina or anus during oral sex to prevent STI transmission. They’re often packaged in clunky wrappers and manufactured by companies with clinical names such as HandiDam, Crosstex and Trustex. Dams also cost more than condoms and are exponentially harder to buy (good luck finding them at CVS). Overall, despite their intention to make oral sex safer, they end up making it feel like a chore, sending an unfair message to women that they deserve neither safe cunnilingus nor any version of it.
“Stretching a piece of rubber over someone’s private parts is not aesthetically pleasing,” says Dr. Damian Jacob Sendler, a New York– based clinical sexologist. “There has never been a serious campaign promoting the use of dams for people who enjoy oral sex.”
Therein lies the problem. National rates of STIs are reaching record highs, yet culturally, safe sex has remained synonymous with condoms, which are deeply entrenched in our consumer consciousness thanks to their ubiquity, affordability and chic brand names such as Skyn and Trojan. In fact, Research and Markets estimates that by 2021 the global condom market will be worth nearly $10 billion. “But when it comes to the dental dam, everybody thinks of them as a laughingstock and incredibly unsexy,” says Melanie Cristol, founder of Lorals, a brand she hopes will modernize the dental dam industry.
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