How to Buy Condoms: Part 1

Woman and man standing in a street both looking at her phone.

How to Buy Condoms: Part 1

by Amber M.

Main takeaways:

  • Condoms stretch a lot, and using a condom that’s too big can slip off.
  • There may be lots of options on the shelves, but any lubricated condom is good.
  • Don’t worry about what the cashier (or anyone else) thinks about you buying condoms.

If only buying condomswas as easy as handing your money to the cashier. But as you may imagine, this purchase can come along with some confusion, and maybe even a little fear.To help with that, here’s your play by play:

  1. Find the right size. Condoms stretch a lot, and very few folks NEED magnum-sized condoms. Though the who need them find them more comfortable, it’s not a good idea for average sized folks to use them because any condom that is too big can more easily slip off.
  2. Don’t get distracted by all the options. There are flavored ones, colored ones, textured ones…seriously it can be like shopping for balloon animals. The truth: they aren’t really all that different. People might 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. Spermicide adds an extra layer of pregnancy protection, but 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, or patch) may be your best bet.
  4. To lube or not to lube. Many condoms come lubricated with substances that claim to “make you last longer” or “turn up the heat.” These are mostly marketing ploys, and some of these tingling lubricants may be distracting or even uncomfortable.
  5. Keep your cool. You have the condoms, you’re walking up to the register, and you’re starting to get nervous. What is the cashier thinking? Are they going to announce to people what I’m buying? The answer is very likely NO. They’re probably just thinking about getting off work, or what they’re going to have for dinner. And seriously—they’ve seen so many other people buy condoms, so don’t sweat it.

After all that, it’s important to remember what buying condoms means: you’re being safe and that you’re prepared. It doesn’t even necessarily mean that you’re having sex. (Or that you have to have sex.) But whether you plan to use that condom tomorrow or another time, it’s always a smart thing to have around.