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Lorals for Protection is a new latex underwear that can guard against STI’s during oral sex and has been approved by the FDA. Photo provided by Lorals
  • The FDA has approved a new type of latex underwear called Lorals for use during oral sex.
  • Lorals are reported to be as good as a dental dams in preventing the transmission of STIs.
  • They provide additional benefits, however, since they can be used hands-free.
  • The company also notes that Lorals are ultra-thin to allow for greater pleasure.
  • As with other forms of protection, it is important to use Lorals properly for best results.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has officially cleared Lorals for Protection latex underwear to be marketed as a form of barrier protection during oral sex.

They are designed to provide a barrier to help reduce the transmission of bodily fluids that might contain organisms which could lead to sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

The underwear are made from natural rubber latex, according to Brazen Goods, Inc., the company that makes Lorals.

They are to be used during sexual activities that involve oral contact.

They should be used once and then discarded, says the company.

According to Lorals’ CEO and founder, Melanie Cristol, the FDA’s decision is a milestone. Up until now, the only option for people with vulvas was the dental dam.

Cristol explained that a dental dam is a thin square of latex that can be placed over your partner’s vulva or anus when you engage in oral sex. They were “originally designed for use during dental surgery,” said Cristol, but “they haven’t been fundamentally updated in over 40 years.”

Cristol says the problem with dental dams is they are not user friendly since they have to be held in place and could move around, allowing bacteria to be transmitted from the anus to the vagina.

Lorals, on the other hand, are worn like underwear. This allows them to be hands-free without worries that they will slip out of place.

They are also ultra-thin in order to allow maximum sensation and pleasure, according to Cristol.

Anne Philpott, founder and co-director of The Pleasure Project, sees this development as being a real benefit for people with vulvas.

“Honestly, it’s great that you can wear them,” she said, “and you have full mobility to enjoy oral sex. If they transfer sensation, that’s great.”

She further noted that “wearing them ready for oral sex could feel exciting – the build-up and anticipation.

“Seeing them as a sex toy that also protects from STIs is great and the benefits of oral sex are front and center in their campaign ad branding, which is very pleasure positive.”

She feels that including pleasure in our discussions about protection makes people more likely to engage in safe sex.

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Lorals are reported to be as good as a dental dams in preventing the transmission of STIs. Getty Images

Giving people with vulvas more options for protection is important, according to Cristol.

Statistics provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveal that there are about 20 million new cases of STIs annually.

In addition, there are about 110 million cases at any given time.

The CDC further notes that STIs are becoming increasingly resistant to antimicrobial treatments.

Philpott said that neither the FDA nor the manufacturer of Lorals appears to provide information on their respective websites about just how effective Lorals are. However, they do state that they are as effective as dental dams. “FDA approval is pretty gold standard and reassuring,” said Philpott.

The Halifax Sexual Health Center states that there are few statistics regarding exactly how effective dental dams are, but they note that they do reduce the risk of transmission of an STI when used properly.

While Cristol did not go into specifics about how effective they are, she did say that, when they applied for FDA clearance, they had to meet the FDA’s requirements for things such as dimensions, thickness, elasticity, strength, and lack of holes.

They also had to test the underwear to ensure that they do not cause cytotoxicity, irritation, or sensitization to the human body.

Finally, they had to prove that the product would retain its integrity throughout its two-year shelf life.

“We conducted hundreds of tests, and Lorals passed all of the FDA’s requirements,” said Cristol.

Lorals states on its website that Lorals Protection should not be worn for longer periods of time as this could damage the material and make them less effective.

Putting them on just prior to sex rather than wearing them beforehand is recommended.

If you have an allergy to natural rubber latex, you should not use Lorals.

You should speak with your doctor if you are unsure about whether you are at risk for an allergic reaction to this particular material.

The company recommends using a water or silicone-based lubricant rather than an oil-based one as this can cause latex to break down.

They additionally note that you should be careful when opening them and putting them on so that they don’t become damaged by your fingernails, jewelry, or any other sharp objects.

Lorals states that the vulva, clitoris, and anus should be fully covered in order to protect those areas.

They also recommend using a new pair for each sexual act.

Dr. Cornelius Jamison, an expert in STI and HIV prevention at the University of Michigan, further noted that Lorals have a two-year shelf life.

“Like condoms, it will be important to look at the expiration date,” said Jamison.

Latex can degrade over time, making them less effective at preventing STIs.