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How to Buy Condoms: Part 1

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Pick up your wallet, take out the cash, hand it to the cashier…ah, if only buying condoms were that easy! But as you may imagine, this purchase can come along with healthy dose of both confusion and embarrassment. To help with that, here’s your play by play: 

  1. Buy the right size. Condoms stretch a lot. Literally, I’ve seen a dude stretch one over his head before. This is to say that very few guys NEED magnum-sized condoms. Though the men who need them find them more comfortable, it’s a bad idea for regular sized guys to buy them because any condom that is too big can more easily slip off.
  2. Don’t get Serengeti fever/distracted by all the options. There must be 7,453 types of condoms on the market right now (and about a thousand on the shelves if you go to a big drug store). There are flavored ones, colored ones, textured ones…seriously it can be like shopping for balloon animals. The truth: they aren’t really that all that different. Different people might grow to prefer different brands over time, but you can never go wrong with a plain lubricated condom. (Think bottled water here…there are a zillion brands at the end of the day they taste pretty similar and all quench your thirst).
  3. To spermicide or not to spermicide. Here is another choice to make. Although spermicide adds an extra layer of pregnancy protection, it can also be irritating to the vagina. If you want to use two forms of birth control—which is always a good choice!—a condom and a hormonal method (pills, ring, patch) may be your best bet.
  4. To lube or not to lube. Many condoms these days come lubricated with substances that claim to “make you last longer,” “turn up the heat,” or make sex “explosive.” Again, these are mostly marketing ploys, and some of these tingling lubricants may be distracting or even uncomfortable. Perhaps something you want to try at some point, but to play it safe, steer away from these. If you do want to use a lubricant, you can always stick with any simple water-based lubricant on the isle (i.e. no oils, body lotions, etc. since oil-based lubricants make condoms more likely to break).
  5. Keep your cool. So you have the condoms in hand, you’re walking up to the register, and you’re starting to get nervous. What is the cashier thinking? Are they judging me? Are they going to announce to people what I’m buying? The answer to all of these worries is very likely NO. Assuming you don’t know the cashier, they likely couldn’t care less what you’re buying. Maybe the first few times someone bought condoms they found it awkward or funny, but at this point, they’re probably immune to it and are just thinking about getting off work. And seriously—they’ve seen enough people’s shopping that your condom purchase is likely not that big of a deal to them, so don’t sweat it.

After all that, it’s important to remember what buying condoms means. Worst case scenario, let’s say the cashier does judge you—or has a judgy face. Remember what it means about you that you’re buying condoms: it means that you’re being safe and that you’re being prepared. It doesn’t even necessarily mean that you’re having sex! (Or that you have to have sex.) But whether you need to use that condom tomorrow or two years from tomorrow, it’s always a smart thing to have around.  

Want to know more? Check out How to Buy Condoms: Part 2 here!

Author: Amber M.
Teenagers sitting on a tree limb

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