Chew on this: What if you could experience oral sex without actually taking off your clothes?
That prospect is a reality now that the Food and Drug Administration has given clearance to a line of underwear that can prevent sexually transmitted infections from oral sex or analingus, according to BuzzFeed News. FDA clearance means that a manufacturer has shown its product is “substantially equivalent” to a similar product that already has FDA clearance or approval.
The product is a brand of thin and stretchy single-use latex panties called Lorals that caters to people who want to feel both pleasure and protection during cunnilingus.
The panties are not cleared for fellatio or penetrative sex, however.
Company officials had to prove the oral sex undies were at least equivalent to the protection provided by dental dams, a polyurethane barrier method that Los Angeles-area OB-GYN Dr. Sheryl Ross speculates is used by 5% of people at most.
“The dental dam is all we have to date for oral sex for women, anal activity, or rimming, and no one is using them,” Ross told BuzzFeed, adding that the Lorals underwear seems to be “a lot sexier.”
Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, director of the division of infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, noted to The New York Times that the product fills a need because “oral sex is not totally risk-free” and many “teenagers are initiating their first sexual activity with oral sex.”
She thinks the panties could “reduce anxiety and increase pleasure around that particular behavior.”
Although the risk of transmitting HIV from a vagina through oral sex is considered very low, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says infections like herpes, gonorrhea and syphilis can be transmitted through oral sex.
In addition, HPV — human papillomavirus — is more easily transmitted that way, and mouth and throat infections from some types of HPV may develop into oral or neck cancer, the agency said.
“The FDA’s authorization of this product gives people another option to protect against STIs during oral sex,” Courtney Lias, director of the FDA office that led the review of the underwear, told The New York Times.
However, one woman who tested the product had mixed reviews, according to BuzzFeed.
The woman told the website that she liked the product’s vanilla scent, which was “strong, but not overwhelming,” as well as the easy-to-follow instructions.
But while the woman praised the material for being thin enough “where you can actually feel sensations,” her partner said the latex “did not feel good on his tongue and the friction when licking was uncomfortable.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said the underwear had been approved by the FDA, when it actually had received FDA clearance. The two terms refer to different kinds of FDA authorization.