How to Buy Condoms: Part 2
Buying condoms can be an intimidating process. But like many things, it’s probably a lot scarier in your head then it is in real life. Need a little help? Worry not, here’s your condom buying manual:
- When’s the best time to buy? The best time to buy condoms is well before you actually need to use one. That way if a store closes earlier than you thought or you get some last minute jitters, you still have time for a re-do. If you're worried about running into someone you know, aim to hit up the pharmacy early in the morning (before school) or later at night (on your way home) when it's not a likely time that other people will be doing errands.
- Will I get carded? You have to be 18 to buy tobacco products or pornography. You DO NOT have to be 18 to buy condoms. You should not get carded for buying condoms and a clerk cannot legally refuse to sell them to you without looking at your ID. A checkout person also shouldn't ask your age—and if they do, you don’t have to answer. Or, you could say: "You don't have to be 18 to buy condoms and I’m not obligated to share my age with you." You can also just leave and go to a different pharmacy, gas station, or come back when someone else is working.
- What if the condoms are behind the counter? Some stores do keep condoms behind the counter. If this is the case, have an advance plan for what brand and type of condom you want. That way, you avoid this awkward convo:
You: "Can I have a pack of condoms?"
Check out person: "What brand?"
Check out person: "Her pleasure? Ultra ribbed? Magnum? Extended Pleasure? Oh, and do you want a 3-pack or are you going for econo-size?”
- What if you’re embarrassed? You may feel embarrassed walking up to a counter and buying condoms. But chances are, the cashier DOES NOT CARE! Seriously, they’re likely so preoccupied with getting off work (or whatever else is going on in their lives) that they barely even notice—or care—what you’re buying. Besides, this isn’t their first rodeo—they’ve probably sold hundreds of boxes of condoms before selling to you. And, if this pep talk didn’t help you, just go to a place that has a self-check out and then you don’t have to deal with it.
- What if you see someone you know? There is a chance (even if it’s a small one) that you’ll run into someone you know when you’re buying condoms. If you truly think this is a likely possibility, then you might want to drive to the next town over and do your shopping there. Another thing you can do is get a basket and put a big bag of candy in it so you can hide the condoms underneath. That way, if you do run into someone they won’t see what you’re buying, and you can wait to check out until the person you know leaves. You can also buy condoms online (if you have a credit card).
- What kind should you buy? There are a gazillion different types of condoms currently on the market. Everyone has their favorite type, but in truth, they aren’t really all that different. If you’re not sure what kind to buy you can always look up reviews online. Be warned though, some condoms come with lubricants that produce different sensations—so unless you’re up for that kind of adventure, you may want to steer clear of any with exotic names. Also keep in mind whether you’re buying latex, nitrile, or some other material; some men and women have latex allergies and will need to steer clear of this very common material.
If money is tight, check out CondomFinder.org. Just type in your zip code and see locations nearby that offer free condoms.
Good luck out there! And good for you for taking the initiative to protect both yourself and your partner. Sex is so much better when the threat of an unplanned pregnancy or an STI isn’t nagging in the back of your head.
Originally published on stayteen.org on June 30, 2015.