Dear Alice,

I am a shy person, and I feel embarrassed to buy condoms over-the-counter. Are there other ways of obtaining them? Thanks for answering!

Sincerely,
Mr. Condom

Dear Mr. Condom,

It's fantastic that you're a fan of condoms and looking to practice safer sex! You're certainly not the only one who feels a tad bit sheepish seeking them out. Thankfully, there are a multitude of ways to get condoms (stores, online, and in health centers) — many of which are discreet.

If you go to a store in-person for your stash, one strategy you may use is to pick out your other essentials first so condoms aren't the sole focus of attention while browsing the shelves or when you’re at the checkout counter. Need to pick up some more toothpaste? Tampons? Shampoo? Just add them to your shopping list along with your prophylactics. If you'd rather avoid face time altogether, you can place an order from large online retailers, specialty sexuality shops such as Babeland or Good Vibrations, or other websites (just search “buy condoms online” and explore your options). If you’re worried about packaging or billing, many of these businesses not only promise plain packaging, but they also have run-of-the-mill company names so someone reading your credit card bill may have no idea that you're buying condoms. Looking to save some time and dough? Consider buying in bulk — just keep an eye out on those expiration dates.

If you’re a student, you may even have access to free condoms! Campus health centers often have free condoms available in their office. If that isn’t an option, sexual health clinics such as Planned Parenthood and your health care provider may also have free or low-cost condoms. Perhaps after your next routine visit, you can take a supply home with you or grab some before you leave. You can just slip them in your pocket or bag and be on your way — with no one the wiser but your health care provider. Before you stock up though, it’s wise to do a little research on different kinds of condoms and tips on what to look for to make sure you’re picking up the condoms that are right for you and your partner(s).

Mr. Condom, while you’re not alone, there is no need to feel embarrassed. Though many people may feel self-conscious when it comes to sexual matters, sex is natural, healthy, and a part of most people’s adult life. You can take pride in the fact that you're being safe, responsible, and respectful of your partner(s) by making sure you have condoms to protect yourself and each other.

Alice!

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