Sex and latex

Love her in latex

Latex offers the greatest amount of protection against STIs during sex between women. There are three main latex products that can be used for sex between women:

  • latex gloves – used for vaginal/anal fingering or fisting;
  • dams –  a thin sheet of latex used during oral sex; and
  • condoms – used on sex toys and for sexual intercourse if you are having sex with men. Female condoms can be used for any penetrative activity.

Using latex well can take a bit of practice. Some things to remember:

  • make sure your fingernails are short, even if you are wearing gloves. Puncturing the glove defeats the purpose;
  • condoms can be made into dams by cutting off the tip and slicing down one side of the condom; and
  • remember to laugh – sometimes latex is just plain silly.

The use of latex barriers can stop the transfer of bodily fluids between partners and reduce the risk of contracting STIs. Latex barriers (along with regular STI checks) are the most effective form of risk reduction available.

People sometimes think that latex makes sex less intimate and spontaneous. But when used well, latex can in fact make sex a more relaxed experience, as the energy that would be used worrying about the risk of STIs can go into enjoying yourself.

What are we getting into?

There are many different forms of latex, these being the most common.

Keep your hand in: the Glove

Latex gloves can be purchased from chemists or supermarkets and come in boxes of 25, 50 or 100. For those allergic to latex, non-latex gloves are also available. They are used during sexual activities where the hands could be in contact with either vaginal secretions or faeces (vaginal/anal fingering/fisting or clitoral play). Putting some lubricant on the outside of the glove will make everything go a little more smoothly. To prevent vaginal or urinary tract infection, remember to use a different glove when swapping from anal to vaginal penetration.

You can tell a Beaver by its Dam: the Dam

Dams are a thin rectangle of latex used during oral sex (both vaginal and anal). They can be purchased from sexual health centres, some chemists, AIDS Councils and sex shops. The dam is placed over the vagina or anus. It is recommended that you put a small amount of lubricant on the recipients’ side of the dam – this increases sensitivity and also helps keep the dam in position. The dam may be held in place by either partner or a harness (see latex tips for how to make a DIY harness).


Rubber-dub-dub: the Condom

External condoms  (also just called condoms) can be used to protect against transmission of bodily fluids when sharing sex toys and can be purchased from chemists or supermarkets. It is important to use a separate condom for each partner. Condoms can also be placed over a finger or fingers to cover over cut(s). It is likely that during penetration the palm of the hand will still come in contact with vaginal fluids, so use a glove if you have cuts or abrasions on your palm or the back of your hand. Condoms should not be used for fisting as they do not cover the whole hand and may come off fingers during this activity.

Internal condoms (also called Female condoms) are a sheath of polyurethane designed to fit the contours of the vagina) can also be used as protection for any penetrative activity (fingers, fists, toys etc). Internal condoms can be used by people wo are sensitive to latex. They are available from sex shops and online.

Following the instructions is important with both types of condoms. External condoms can also be used during sexual intercourse to protect against pregnancy and STI transmission.

It ain’t what you got, it’s the way that you use it: Getting creative with latex

Good latex use is unfortunately uncommon, which means latex gets a bad name as the dampener of potentially explosive sex. When used well, latex can not only increase safety but also provide a range of different sensations. Below are some hints about latex use, as well as some ways that different latex products can be substituted or adapted for use in a variety of sexual activities. It is certainly not an exhaustive list and we would encourage you to come up with your own creative ways of using latex:

  • condoms can be turned into dams by cutting off the tip and slicing down one side;
  • gloves can also be made into dams by cutting off the four fingers (leave the thumb) then cutting down the edge of the glove where the little finger used to be. This style of dam has the advantage that the thumb of the glove can be placed in the vagina while maintaining the tautness of the rest of the dam (unlike other dams, which will scrunch up);
  • sometimes latex can taste unpleasant, why not try adding food to it! Make sure it doesn’t contain oil that can break down the latex. Chocolate is popular, as are strawberries;
  • play with the dam in your mouth, suck on it; experiment with the different feelings of suction and generalised pressure;
  • it is useful to get your lover to hold the dam and for you to hold your breath just as you are making initial contact between your mouth and the dam. Until the dam is ‘secured’ by vaginal fluids, it will move about quite a bit, especially with any draught – choking on latex is not only traumatic, it is also not very sexy;
  • even if you are wearing gloves, short fingernails are important. Puncturing a hole in the glove defeats the purpose!;
  • an adapted suspender belt can be used to keep a dam in place, although you will need to shorten the straps;
  • you can put a condom on a dildo (or a penis) by using your mouth. Place the rolled up condom in your mouth, in front of your teeth. Hold the teat against the roof of your mouth with your tongue and using your lips (not your teeth) go down, unrolling the condom as you go; and
  • increased sensation can be given to the inserting partner by placing a small amount of lube on the inside of the glove (beware - prune fingers!).