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National Dam Day


November 22 is National Dental Dam Day!  Dams, otherwise known as Oral Barriers, are gaining awareness for their important role in helping prevent STIs during oral sex.


What exactly is an oral barrier?   An oral barrier or dam is a sheet of latex or polyisoprene (non-latex) that is used as a barrier when performing oral-vaginal or oral-anal sex.  They are used to help reduce the transmission of infections that can occur during any oral sex activities.


Dental Dams vs Dams?


Dental Dams were originally used to isolate a tooth from the rest of the mouth during dental procedures.  They were, and still are for that purpose, a simple 5- or 6-inch square sheet.  Folks began to use them as a barrier during oral sex as they were a better option than cling wrap or cut up condoms (neither of which meet the regulatory requirements)!  But these were not exactly conducive to the sensual aspect of oral sex due to their thickness nor met regulatory standards as an oral barrier due to their smaller size.  Enter today’s oral barrier! 


Why Give a Dam?


The late 1980s saw an increased openness in speaking about sexual wellness, safer sex practices, and sexuality in general. And more people started asking about dams.  The sheer number of STIs and the continually growing rates around the world today necessitate a variety of safer sex products.  Oral Barriers are definitely an important part of safer sex practices. 


It is also extremely important that you use a dam that meets the ISO 29942 Standards for Dams.  Yes, there is a comprehensive regulatory ISO Standard regarding dams that includes proper sizing, viral barrier testing, biocompatibility testing, tear and tensile testing and a number of other requirements.  Nobody wants to, or should have to, worry that any product being used for safer sex practices is not going to do what it should.  And in order for that to be the case it is imperative to make sure the products you use, specifically condoms and dams, are fully licensed by your country’s governing body. 


Dams that are for oral sex have a set of requirements that must be met for proper licensing as they are considered a medical device.  According to the regulatory standard all dams need to be 6 x 10 inches in size to ensure maximum coverage.  They need to have some flexibility in their tensile strength without tearing. They need to be the correct thickness to ensure they act as a viral barrier to help prevent the transmission of an STI.  They need to be made with products that are approved and meet biocompatibility standards.  They also need to be registered with either the FDA or Canada in North America. These requirements have specific parameters that MUST be met to be FDA approved or Health Canada Licensed.


Safer Sex Practices


Oral sex still has the risk of spreading infections.  The use of an oral barrier helps to reduce the risk when used consistently and properly.  There are many different factors that determine the risk of transmitting an STI.  According to the CDC, “Many STDs, as well as other infections, can be spread through oral sex. Anyone exposed to an infected partner can get an STD in the mouth, throat, genitals, or rectum. The risk of getting an STD from oral sex, or spreading an STD to others through oral sex, depends on several things, including:


  • The particular STD.
  • The sex acts practiced.
  • How common the STD is in the population to which the sex partners belong.
  • The number of specific sex acts performed.

Dams and condoms are considered medical devices in North America. This is to ensure that if they claim to help prevent STIs they have the testing and regulatory background to support that. ALWAYS make sure the products you are using are licensed or approved so that you can spread a dam, not an infection! 

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Latex Allergy & Sensitivities

What is a Latex Allergy or Sensitivity?


Latex Allergy Awareness Week


October 1-7 is Latex Allergy Awareness Week.  This week is focused on bringing an increased awareness surrounding latex allergies and sensitivities.  Latex allergies can range from mild to life threatening, and continued exposure has been shown to increase the severity. This is called sensitization.  The Mayo Clinic explains this process as your immune system identifying latex as a harmful substance and triggering certain antibodies to fight it off. The next time you're exposed to latex, these antibodies tell your immune system to release histamine and other chemicals into your bloodstream. This process produces a range of allergy symptoms. The more times you are exposed to latex, the more strongly your immune system is likely to respond.


What is Latex


Latex is a naturally occurring substance that is found beneath the bark of the rubber tree.  This milky white substance is harvested by tapping the trees.  The bark is scored and peeled back to create a channel that allows the sap to run into buckets attached to the trees.  The sap is collected and then processed  into latex that is used in many common day-to-day items.  Latex possesses a great many attributes that allow it to be used for a wide variety of items from gloves to balloons to condoms and dams.  But it also can be life threatening to people who have a latex allergy.


What are you allergic to in latex?


A latex allergy is actually an allergic reaction to the proteins present in the milky sap of the rubber tree.   Simply put, your body views the latex as something harmful.  This response causes a release of histamines to fight the “intruder”. Histamines and other chemical responses are what trigger the allergic reactions and symptoms.  It is the latex protein that creates this allergic reaction, one that can worsen over repeated exposure.  This protein is very similar to proteins in some nuts, fruits and vegetables.  It is not uncommon for people who have a latex allergy to also have allergies or sensitivities to the following foods:


  • Avocado
  • Banana
  • Chestnut
  • Kiwi
  • Apple
  • Carrot
  • Celery
  • Papaya
  • Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Melons

What is Polyisoprene?


Interestingly enough, polyisoprene is created either by removing the allergy producing protein from natural rubber or as a totally synthetic product created in a laboratory setting.  But polyisoprene retains the many attributes that natural latex has with its softness, tear and tensile strength, and comfort.  Polyisoprene condoms and dams are a safer option for anyone who has latex sensitivities or allergies.  They provide a necessary alternative for the growing number of individuals who suffer from latex allergies.


Pros & Cons of Polyisoprene


There are far more pros than cons when it comes to polyisoprene condoms and dams!  The pros are obvious!  You can enjoy safer sex without the concerns of a latex allergic reaction to the condoms or dams being used.   Polyisoprene condoms and dams are a safe replacement for any latex condom or dam.   The cons are very few and far between!   The one that first comes to mind is that they are a bit more costly than their latex alternatives.


Protect Your Health!


Protection is available for everyone, even those with a latex allergy or sensitivity.  The options are growing for access to polyisoprene condoms and dams.  Harmony Polyisoprene Dams are available in both retail and bulk options.  Your health, all aspects of it, is worth protecting. 

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Safer Sex Can Still be Fun!

Safer Sex Can Be Fun!


Sometimes we may feel that safety is all about restricting what we view as our enjoyment of some things.  But when it comes to sexual activities, that is absolutely not the case!   There are many different products that can assist in everyone having safer sex that can also be fun.  The products for safer sex have expanded over the years to incorporate many unique aspects that help to meet many different individual needs.


What Is Safer Sex?


Safer sex is quite simply anything we do to help lower the risk of transmission of infection during sexual activities for all participants.   The terminology is SAFER because nothing is 100% due to some extenuating circumstances, a big one being user error.  So, if you are going to engage in any sexual activities make sure you use products that help keep it safer and could also make it more fun.   This can include latex or polyisoprene condoms, latex or polyisoprene dams, or nitrile female condoms. All of these acts as a barrier to help prevent the exchange of bodily fluids that may cause an infection.  And to reduce usage issues, always read the instructions.


Practicing Safer Sex


If engaging in sexual activities, there are things to do to help practice safer sex:


  • Use a condom for vaginal or anal sex
  • Use a dam for oral/vaginal or oral/anal sex
  • Mutual Masturbation
  • Use a condom with sex toys
  • Use a new condom/dam every time you switch sexual activities
  • Do not re-use a condom or dam
  • Use lubricants with condoms and dams
  • Read the instructions for use

Learning to implement the usage of condoms and dams into foreplay can also help increase pleasure as well as safety. 


Condom Styles


There truly is a condom style to meet everyone’s needs!  Condoms come in many options, a few of which are the following:


  • Straight walled
  • Lubricated or Non-lubricated
  • Colored
  • Flavored
  • Ribbed & Studded
  • Glow in the Dark
  • Tattooed
  • Super Sensitive
  • Extra Large
  • Hyper Thin
  • Snugger Fit
  • Pleasure Shaped
  • Tingling Condoms
  • Edible Condoms

Most of today’s condoms are meant to be used for safer sex purposes but there are some that are strictly for enjoyment and are not a form of protection.  Make sure you know what you are using before you engage in any sexual activity.  Also make sure your condoms and dams are FDA approved.  Always purchase or obtain your condoms and dams from credible suppliers including licensed Health Distributors, Public Health, your doctor, and pharmacies.


Safer Sex can be still be fun.  Actually, perhaps more fun when you know you are taking precautions to help reduce your risks of an unintended pregnancy and the transmission of STIs.

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How to Use a Dam

How to Use an Oral Barrier


How to use a what???? Oral Barriers are also known as dams or dental dams.  But knowing their different names does not always help people know what they actually are or what they actually do.


What is an oral barrier or dam?   A dam is a sheet of latex or polyisoprene (some folks may say non-latex) that is used as a barrier when performing oral-vaginal or oral-anal sex.  They are used to help reduce the transmission of infections that can occur during these activities. 


How to Use a Dam


Penetrative sex is not the only way to transmit an infection.  Oral sex still has the risk of spreading infections.  The use of an oral barrier can help to reduce the risk when used consistently and properly.  There are a few guidelines for using a dam that need to be followed for proper use.

  • Dams are a single use barrier.  
  • Lay the dam flat to cover the anus or vagina/vulva.
  • Hold the dam in place without stretching it.
  • Do not flip the dam. 
  • Use a new dam when switching from oral-anal to oral-vaginal sex.
  • Dispose of the dam in the garbage after use. Do not flush down a toilet.

Availability of Dams


Dams have been historically harder to find for purchase by the general public. The lack of awareness and education over the years surrounding dams has definitely left a void in the market of sexual wellness.  This is changing slowly. Adult Stores and many online condom stores have offered dams. 

Dams are considered a Class II medical device in the US due to its claim that it can help reduce the transmission of STIs.  This means that in order to be FDA licensed and approved as a Class II medical device they must undergo extensive testing by accredited test houses and labs.  So, it is always important to make sure your sexual wellness toolkit is stocked with FDA approved items, including condoms and dams.


We are excited to introduce the first ever FDA Licensed Polyisoprene Class II Oral Barrier – Harmony Dams!  Harmony Dams are available in both Latex and Polyisoprene.  Harmony Polyisoprene Dams are the only licensed oral barrier available for individuals with latex allergies or sensitivities. Both Harmony Dams are a 6x10 inch sheet to provide maximum coverage. They are lightly scented and natural color.  Both products are available in retail packaging on the Safely Sexual retail site. 


Spread a dam, not an infection!   Click here for our informational and instructional videos!

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