“I don’t understand the relationship between oral sex and panties,” wrote one Twitter user when, in late May, the FDA cleared the sale of the first underwear designed for protection during oral sex. Since then, the social network has been full of revealing comments on a problem that gynecologists and sexologists have long recognized: it is much rarer to use protection against sexually transmitted infections during oral sex than during sexual intercourse. . “I wanted to feel sexy and confident and use something that was made with my body and my real sex in mind,” Melanie Cristol, the creator of the Lorals brand of vanilla-flavored protective underwear, told the New York Times.
The underwear comes in a pack of four and costs €24.95. Being single-use products, their price makes them a semi-luxury product, something to buy more out of curiosity than habit. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than one million people contract a sexually transmitted infection (STI) every day, most of which are asymptomatic. And the trend is up.
Gynecologist Conchi de Lucas says the most common orally transmitted STIs are “syphilis, gonorrhea, genital herpes, and human papillomavirus (HPV).” However, it is difficult to determine which cases are caused by genital contact and which by oral contact, since it is common for both practices to occur during the same sexual act. HPV, which 90% of the sexually active population will encounter at some point in their lives, “is associated with the risk of cervical cancer, but the risks of contracting it orally and orally are not taken into account. count,” Lucas said. The gynecologist gives the example of Michael Douglas, who, as he said The Guardian in 2013, suffered from throat cancer caused by an HPV infection contracted orally. “The use of protection in sexual relations has been centered on the prevention of unwanted pregnancies, but in the long term, STIs can affect health with the appearance of cancers or fertility problems.”
“I hardly know anyone who performs cunnilungus or annulus with a latex barrier,” explains Inma Sutt, community manager of the Barcelona sex shop Amantis de Sant Antoni. Rectangle-shaped barriers are the only regulated and effective form of protection for the vulva and anus available in Spain, where latex panties have not yet been approved by the European Medicines Agency. The lack of awareness of other barriers has to do, as Sutt puts it, with a lack of sex education and a meager supply in the market. “In the store they rarely sell, and the supermarkets don’t even have them.” They can be found in some pharmacies, in sex shops and online.
Additionally, “latex barriers are proportionally much more expensive than condoms,” says Sutt. The pink tax, applied to products marketed to women, points the tip of its nose here: “A box of barriers, which has four pieces, costs €7.99. A box of MY.SIZE male condoms, vegan and with up to six different sizes, contains 36 and costs €22.99. Lack of accessibility, she says, drives “many women to buy condoms and cut them to use as a barrier. Others use cling film, but it doesn’t work as protection and can cause infections.
“There are a lot of myths about oral sex,” says sex therapist and clinical psychologist Carme Sanchez. “A lot of people think that there is no chance of getting diseases or that it is much less likely in oral sex. It is true that there is less risk, but that does not mean that it does not exist. Do not confuse less probability with zero probability. She recommends that “if we do not know the people with whom we have a relationship, or if we do not have a monogamous relationship, or in any circumstance in which we cannot be sure of the health status of the other person, protection should always be used.
What future for these clothes for oral sex? Can they contribute to a wider awareness of the need for protection? “It’s good news that they exist, although looking at them online I’m not sure they’re very appetizing,” says Inma Sutt, who knows the sexual pleasure market first-hand. “That doesn’t convince me they’re black. In oral sex, it is important to be able to see. Her intuition is sharp: Mélanie Cristol, the founder of Lorals, has announced that the company will release a transparent model. “If they are very thin, they could be an interesting option. Wearing them might be more comfortable and safer than dental dams, which you have to hold on to and fall off easily. One thing is clear: the market needs safer options that break the stigma that safe sex cannot be enjoyable.