Buying condoms for the first time can be a little daunting. Whether it's swiftly walking down the aisle searching for what you think would feel best or avoiding eye contact with the cashier when putting the box of condoms on the conveyor belt when checking out, it can be a little nerve-racking to buy condoms in stores. But it shouldn't be!
Here at ONE Condoms, we encourage open and honest conversations about safer sex, and part of that is talking about the embarrassment we felt purchasing condoms for the very first time, a feeling most can relate to.
We got the conversation started, by asking Momentum users to share the first time they purchased condoms, and ONE way they have become more confident and empowered when purchasing condoms. Momentum is our advocacy program, where you complete challenges for points. You can then use those points for free condoms and lubricant – and you also get access to giveaways! (Pssst, signing up for Momentum is free!)
Here's what they had to say:
"I'm 34, so back when I started buying condoms, there was still a lot of stigma about females taking responsibility for their sexual health. I was 18, had just graduated high school and moved out on my own, and met this guy who NEVER EVER had a condom when we needed one. It was annoying AF, so I went to an Allsups (gas station) across from my apartment and bought a 4-pack. The cashier was a guy and made some dirty joke, and I just remember being so humiliated that I didn't even wait to get my change. Honestly, back in the day, I don't remember condoms really even being readily available. I don't remember ever seeing them in Walmart or a grocery store. And every time I bought them, I had to ask someone for them because they were behind a counter. I'm married now, and we are using them as birth control, but I'm so glad that things have progressed the way they have. We have an 11-year-old daughter who, whether we like it or not, maybe having sex in a few years, and I'm so thankful that she lives in a world with technology and online shopping and free shipping" - Kristy L.
"The first time I purchased condoms, I walked into the aisle and didn't go directly to them. I walked near them and pretended to look at the shampoo for a while until the aisle was clear, then snatched the first box I could read without caring which brand it was because I was so scared. Then I went to the self-checkout, and as soon as I was about to ring them out after my other purchases, the machine stopped working, and a boy I went to high school with had to come and help me. I was mortified. Now, I try to tell myself that sex is a natural thing that everyone does. It isn't shameful, and even if the person knows you're having sex, at least they know you're being safe about it. Also, I say to myself, what is worse, five minutes of feeling awkward while buying condoms or unintentionally getting pregnant." - Michaela G.
"I grew up in a small town, and I never was one to have socialized much in my life. I grew up always having something done for me, and so I never learned how to do or ask something for myself. Because of this, trying to buy a condom of any type was very difficult. After having met the right person that finally made me want to go for gold, I decided to get over my social anxiety and go out and buy a pack of condoms. This was before I even knew how to drive, and so I walked to the local gas station. I entered the store and pretended to browse around for a while. I waited until there were no other customers in the store, all while picking up a few snacks here and there so that I don't look too suspicious. After there were no customers left, I went over, picked up the condoms I wanted, then went to the counter. Not much conversation was had. To the cashier, it was just another customer. I got out my wallet, paid for the condoms, snacks, and drink, and had the cashier put it all in a bag. After leaving the store, I went through the bag and situated everything to cover the condom box as much as possible, then walked home. Coming home, I went to my window and carefully opened it to drop off the bag before entering the house like normal through the front door so that I didn't have to deal with anyone asking what I bought. To this day, I still sometimes follow this anxiety-filled extra purchasing need, but after having done it several times, I feel more accustomed to the idea of buying condoms. I still tend to wait until I'm relatively alone, I make my purchase, then I head home. Sometimes I might buy an extra snack or two, but with every experience, I have gotten better at it. I still am very shy about it if confronted about it by anyone other than my closest friend or girlfriend, but it is very relieving to feel like I can have a normal sex life with my girlfriend. It just makes me feel normal, and that I can simply be my true self in the bedroom." - David H.
"The first time I bought condoms, I was very nervous because there was a guy behind the counter, and I am a woman. He was older than me and could tell I was nervous. As soon as I paid and got my change, he gave me a smile and said 'have fun.' I was so embarrassed but looking back I think it's so funny." - Kelsey K.
"I honestly didn't think much of getting them the first time. I didn't feel like hiding myself or the condoms. The problem came up when I got to the checkout and the only available cashier was the chick who had an obvious crush on me. She rang it up and stared at it for a good minute before scanning the rest of my stuff. Was a pretty awkward minute, even after we tried just going back to simple small talk." - Anthony B.
"The first time I bought condoms alone was a few months ago. To give you a little picture of myself, I'm an awkward 21-year-old female who is painfully shy. I've always heard the phrase "fake it 'till you make it" in regards to confidence, so I thought that I would try that. I knew I wanted to buy ONE condoms, and finding them wasn't an issue, the issue was having to face the cashier and stand there while they scanned and bagged my condoms. I kept certain thoughts running through my head to make me feel more confident. "I'm an adult, and buying condoms is responsible! It means I'm having safe sex!" and "The cashier helping me has probably had sex as well- so what If I'm sexually active?". I think what was scaring me the most was the stigma associated with women buying condoms, which is ridiculous. Women and men both have sex. Women and men should both be allowed to purchase contraception and not fear judgment. I walked into the store and found them in the "family planning" aisle and walked over to the check-out register and of course, a male cashier would be helping me. I feared he would give me a little chuckle or a sideways glance, just something to show he was judging me hard, but he didn't care. It was actually much more simple and less awkward than I had imagined, and the cashier was totally cool about it. Hopefully, every time I buy condoms is as uneventful as the first!" -Suryna S.
The consensus? Yes, buying condoms can feel embarrassing especially when it's your first time, but you are not alone in that feeling. The more practice you have buying condoms in person, the less awkward or nervous it will feel. Sign up for Momentum and share your story about the first time you ever bought condoms. Let's continue having these discussions to break down the stigma of practicing safer sex, buying condoms, and such.