FDA Clears New Underwear That Reduces the Risk of STDs Transmitted Through Oral Sex

Ultrathin and stretchy, the panties provide a protective layer for the vulva and anus.

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STD resistant underwear
To get FDA clearance, the company had to show that the underwear was as effective as a dental dam.Lorals (3); Canva

A new ultrathin and stretchy latex underwear designed to prevent sexually transmitted infections during oral sex was cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It’s the first and only underwear ever given the nod by the FDA for use to prevent STDs, according to a report in The New York Times.

The new underwear, Lorals for Protection, are dental dams “reinvented,” according to the company. The panties provide a protective layer that covers the vulva and anus so that when wearers engage in oral sex, the transmission of bodily fluids, harmful pathogens, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is curtailed.

Before this clearance, the only other option for protection during oral sex was a dental dam, a latex or polyurethane sheet that had to be held in place. According to the Lorals, the panties reduce, but do not completely eliminate, the risk of STIs.

To get FDA clearance, the company had to show that the underwear was as effective as a dental dam. “We had to meet physical requirements like dimensions, thickness, elasticity, strength, and lack of holes,” said CEO Melanie Cristol. The panties were also tested for compatibility with the human body, and underwent toxicity tests, irritation tests, and sensitization tests.

Many STDs Can Be Transmitted Through Oral Sex

STDs and other infections can be passed between people through oral sex, even if the infected person doesn’t have any signs or symptoms. Exposure to an infected partner can result in an STD in the mouth, throat, genitals, or rectum, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The risk varies according to the type of STD and the sexual activities performed. Diseases such as syphilis, gonorrhea, and intestinal infections can be transmitted through oral sex and spread in the body. If the oral sex involves the anus (called anilingus) it can transmit hepatitis A and B, as well as intestinal parasites such as Giardia and bacteria such as E. coli.

It’s unclear how the risk of passing STDs through oral sex compares with vaginal or anal sex, per the CDC. That’s because most people who have oral sex also have vaginal or anal sex and there are few studies that look at the risk of STDs (other than HIV) from oral sex on the vagina or anus, compared with the penis.

Underwear Designed to Transfer ‘Every Sensual Sensation’

Lorals for Protection are sold in packs of four (each panty is individually packaged) for $25 and can be purchased only on the company’s website. According to the company, the ultrathin (.08 millimeter, to be exact) underwear feels like a “second skin” and transmits every sensual sensation. It's made with natural rubber latex sourced from the sap of rubber trees. People who are allergic to latex shouldn’t use the underwear.

Underwear for Men Is in the Works

Lorals sells two other brands of panties, Lorals for Comfort and Lorals for Pleasure, that are not designed to protect against STIs and are not cleared by the FDA for use as such.

Men can use the panties as well, but they are not designed or intended for people with penises to wear while receiving oral sex. A product may be developed for that at some point, according to the company.

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