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Sex Health. 2010 Jun;7(2):165-9. doi: 10.1071/SH09072.

Do women use dental dams? Safer sex practices of lesbians and other women who have sex with women.

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University of New South Wales, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.


Dental dams are distributed and promoted in some safer sex campaigns for use in oral sex. However, whether and how often dams are used for sex between Australian women remains unknown. We investigated the use of dental dams for sex by lesbians and other women who have sex with women, and the relationship between dam use and sexual risk for this group. In 2004, a self-completion questionnaire was distributed to women attending the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Fair Day and lesbian community venues and health services in Sydney (n = 543). Among the 330 women who had had oral sex with a woman in the previous 6 months, 9.7% had used a dental dam and 2.1% had used one 'often'. There was little evidence of dam use for prevention of sexually transmissible infections. Although women who practised rimming (oral-anal contact) or had fetish sex involving blood were more likely to have used a dam, dam use was not significantly more common among women who had more partners, or had casual or group sex. Some women avoided oral sex during menstruation or had oral sex with a tampon in place. Latex gloves and condoms were used by more women and more often than dams.

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