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How to Buy Condoms: 32 Secrets to be a Condom Know-It-All Before Using One

Condoms are important for a healthy sex life. But buying the right ones can be hard. Here’s everything you need to know about buying condoms!

how to buy condoms

Needless to say, condoms are your easily-obtainable go-to item for protection from STDs or unwanted pregnancies. In addition to that, condoms also have the potential to make your sexy time more interesting. There are tons of different varieties available with different effects, sensations, and even flavors! But do you know how to buy condoms?

There are a lot of condoms in the market, each with different promises of protection and pleasure. So from all these countless brands, how do you choose? Today we answer several FAQs to help you find the best condom that will literally, and figuratively, fit you!

Types of condoms that you can buy

First, let’s find out what different types of condoms are available to buy. Of course, we can’t list every single type of condom available.

But we’ll try our best to give you a broad breakdown of the various styles on the market. So, let’s see which kinds of condoms you can buy.

[Read: How long do condoms last? 23 tips to keep them, and mistakes that make them expire fast]

1. Ribbed condoms

If you’ve ever looked at condoms for sale, you’ll have seen that some boxes boast hidden features “for her pleasure.”

Ribbed condoms have textures such as raised ribs and bumps on the side of the sheath, which add extra sensation for girls.

If you want extra sensation, ribbed condoms are a great option. However, if you or your partner are very sensitive, the extra friction might feel a little overwhelming or uncomfortable.

2. Lubricated condoms

Sometimes, you need extra lube to keep sex pleasurable. That’s why they invented lubricated condoms! These are the opposite of ribbed condoms; they have extra slippery lube on the outside that reduces the amount of friction you both feel.

These can be perfect if you are both very sensitive, or usually need lube to help things along. But if you plan to use extra lube, make sure you check that it’s compatible with the condom.

[Read: Common birth control options and what they can do for you]

3. Spermicide condoms

Some condoms have a birth control substance on them that kills off sperm, known as spermicide. Spermicide is around 80% effective at preventing pregnancy, and you can use it as birth control in its own right.

So, when you use it with another form of birth control like condoms, you can get up to 97% protection!

However, even though these condoms come coated with spermicide, this can cause some issues. The spermicide can make the condom more likely to break during rough sex. It can also irritate your skin if you’re sensitive to chemicals.

Different condom materials

So, those are some of the different types of condoms. As well as different kinds, there are also various materials that set some condoms apart from each other. Let’s look at the materials available, and what you can expect from them.

1. Latex condoms

Latex is the most common condom material. When you’re buying condoms, you’ll find that most of them are made of latex.

This is because it suits the job condoms need to do! Latex is a non-porous material, which means liquids can’t get through it.

The most important things to consider with latex condoms are allergies, and lube. Firstly, only use water or silicone-based lubes with latex. Oil-based substances like vaseline and body lotion can break down the condom and cause it to break.

[Read: Why a baby trap is the dumbest idea, and won’t keep your man]

2. Non-latex condoms

Secondly, some people are allergic to latex. If you notice any itching, redness, or rashes after using a latex rubber, consider switching to a non-latex material.

Non-latex condoms are made out of polyeurethane, nitrile, or polyisoprene, which is gentler on your skin.

However, non-latex condoms aren’t as effective as latex ones. The alternative materials they use aren’t as strong, so only opt for these if you’re allergic to latex.

3. Lambskin condoms

Lambskin condoms are made from… well, the skin of lambs. More specifically, they’re made of animal intestines.

While this means they are thinner and natural-feeling, it also means they are much more porous; small viruses like herpes and HIV can still get through.

They’re also not vegan, obviously.

4. Female condoms

Female condoms look a lot like male condoms. The only difference is that you insert them inside the vagina instead of rolling them onto the penis.

Some people call them internal condoms because of this. They’re made from soft synthetic latex and form a barrier that stops sperm from reaching the womb.

Where to buy condoms

Next, let’s find out where you can easily get hold of condoms. There are lots of different stores and services that will happily sell you condoms.

Some will even give them to you for free! Which one you choose depends on how confident you feel buying condoms, how much money you have, and which kind of condoms you want to buy.

[Read: Do you hate wearing condoms?]

1. Buying condoms from websites

There are lots of websites that sell contraceptives, and some even specialize in condoms. You can buy practically any kind you can imagine: latex, non-latex, lambskin, internal, and even novelty condoms.

They are usually around the same price as condoms from an IRL store, but you will have to pay the shipping on top.

The best thing about buying condoms online is the anonymity. If you’re buying online, you don’t have to be face-to-face with a cashier or risk being seen by your nosy neighbors. Most sites also offer plain packaging so you won’t be embarrassed when you’re collecting your parcel.

2. Buying condoms from a drugstore

The cheapest place to purchase condoms is at a drugstore. All local drugstores and pharmacies will sell a wide range of condoms, for just a couple of dollars per pack.

You’ll get the opportunity to read the packages too and find out which kind sounds best. You can even get help from a pharmacist or shop assistant if you’re confused.

Of course, you have to be brave enough if you want to go for this option. If you’re in any way embarrassed about buying condoms, a face-to-face transaction like this will be absolute torture for you.

3. Purchase specialty condoms at an adult store

Adult stores, also known as sex shops, are a great place to look if you’re buying specialty condoms. Some of the rarer, kinkier kinds of condoms will only be available at a specialist sex store.

Nowadays, all of these stores sell online too, so you don’t even need to have one nearby.

These stores offer plain packaging to spare your blushes, and you won’t have to speak to anyone either. However, you will usually have to pay a premium, plus the shipping fees on top.

[Read: Don’t be a fool – wrap your tool!]

4. Pick up free condoms from a local health organization

Do you have a sexual health clinic near you? Most of these organizations offer free condoms if you ask for them. So, if you can’t afford to buy condoms, just pick up a few from your local health organization.

This is an especially good way to get condoms if you’re a teen, in college, broke, or just can’t get condoms from any of the other places.

How to actually buy condoms

Now for the important part: the ultimate guide to buying condoms. If this guide seems short, it’s because buying condoms is actually pretty easy!

All you need to do is keep your cool and follow our advice to keep yourself safe. So, let’s get started!

1. Buy the right size

Most condom manufacturers make their condoms in a standard size that fits most guys. There are also small and XL sizes that fit other guys better. However, make sure you know which size will fit you.

Needing a bigger or smaller size doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you, either, so don’t feel ashamed about it.

A condom should fit snugly around your penis. Not tight enough that it’s uncomfortable, but also not so loose that it slips off during sex.

If it’s too tight, the condom is much more likely to break. But if it’s too loose, it’s more likely to slip off and accidentally release sperm.

2. Don’t get distracted by all the options

Sometimes, there’s such a thing as too much choice. Ever been in a supermarket and just felt overwhelmed by the million different products available, with no idea how to choose? The same thing can happen when you’re buying condoms.

So, don’t get distracted by all the options. Do your research before you go in *yes, reading this feature does count!*, and make sure you leave with exactly the type of condom you were looking for.

3. Keep your cool

Remember, it’s normal to buy condoms. Most people that have sex need contraception, so that means most people have to buy condoms. Keep in mind that nobody is going to be staring at you or making fun of you for doing this normal adult task.

The more nervous you look, the more you’ll draw people’s eyes. So if you’re feeling a little shaky, remember that buying condoms is common, and try to keep your cool.

4. Check the expiration date

Lastly, check the expiration date. If you keep a condom for too long, lubricants, dust, or packaging can wear down the latex material. Degraded latex is far more likely to break during sex – and that’s the last thing you want to happen.

If you want to stay safe, always check the expiration date, and don’t use old condoms.

[Read: Condom types – how a condom can spice up your sex life]

5. Buying condoms before you need them

Don’t wait until you need condoms to think about buying them. Even if you don’t think you’re going to be having sex today, it’s still worth stocking up on condoms if you’re near somewhere that sells them.

There’s nothing worse than running to buy condoms before a hot date, only to find that the shelves are empty of your favorite kind.

6. Buying condoms in bulk to save money

This is especially important to consider if you’re buying condoms online. Most of the time, it’s cheaper to buy condoms in bulk than to buy them in smaller quantities.

So, if you think you’re going to need a lot of condoms over the next few weeks, consider buying them in bulk. That way, you’ll save on shipping costs.

Sometimes, condom sellers will give you a better price if you’re buying a very large quantity of condoms. Maybe consider buying a big box, which you can store and use slowly over time.

7. Think about your partner

You’re not just choosing the right condom for your dick. You also have to consider your partner’s parts, and what works best for them. Some people are allergic to latex, so having sex with a partner wearing a latex condom will be extremely uncomfortable for them.

Make sure to find out if your partner has any important preferences when it comes to buying condoms. This is a joint decision, so don’t forget to ask them for their feelings.

[Read: How to avoid getting STDs]

8. Purchase colored, flavored, or scented condoms for extra fun

Different types of condoms will give you different sensations. Colored condoms are a fun novelty, and you can even get special finishes like glitter or glow-in-the-dark.

If you have a playful partner or often do it with the lights off, this could be a trippy way to make things fun.

Scented condoms also enhance the multisensory experience by bringing in pleasant smells.

You can even get flavored condoms, which are perfect for oral sex. These are especially versatile; you can even cut them in half and use them as a dental dam. However, make sure your partner doesn’t have sensitive skin or allergies before you try out novelty condoms.

9. Girls can buy condoms, too

As we’ve said before, it takes two to tango. Girls can also be responsible for buying condoms, so ask your partner if she wouldn’t mind picking some up too.

Of course, male contraception is always primarily the guy’s problem. But some girls might like being involved in setting up for safe sex, as it gives them extra peace of mind.

Also, don’t forget to talk about female condoms. These might be a better option than male condoms, so don’t rule them out. Make sure you include female condoms in your conversations about safe sex.

FAQs about buying condoms

Let’s face it—guys don’t usually put a lot of thought into buying condoms. But they should… it is more important than you think. So here are the most important things you need to know about buying condoms.

1. Where can you get condoms?

Literally everywhere: the corner drugstore, convenience stores, gas stations, sex shops, and select novelty stores. You can even purchase them online. However, not all places can give you the exact type of condom you need.

For example, drugstores and convenience stores will provide generic, mass-consumption level condoms that are cheap and handy. But if you’re looking for specialty condoms that are more “pleasure-centered” than the staple kind, then sex shops and the internet are your best friends.

[Read: How to have safe sex in every single way possible]

2. Can I get condoms for free?

Yes. There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but there is definitely such thing as a free condom. Depending on the country and city you live in, you can score free condoms from your local general hospital or health clinic as part of government-sponsored reproductive health programs.

However, this doesn’t mean that you can bum these free condoms for life. Each area has different regulations regarding distributing free condoms. [Read: Why men hate using condoms and why you still need one]

3. Is buying condoms age-restricted?

Legally speaking, when buying condoms, there is a law to prevent a person of any age from buying a condom. If a person is underage, the worst he or she can get is a disapproving stare from the cashier. Having sex at a young age may be frowned upon, but using protection is always a positive.

4. How much do condoms cost?

On average, a regular “all-fit” condom costs around $0.50—$1.00. You can get a cheaper deal if you buy them in a multipack.

Specialty condoms, however, come at a price. Like any other commodity, additional “features” also come with a heavier price tag.

These condoms include extra thin, studded, spiral, and other novelty condoms that can only be purchased from the internet.

5. Does using a condom guarantee protection from unwanted pregnancy and sexually-transmitted diseases?

This is a complex question that merits a complex answer. Generally speaking, a trusted condom brand can provide up to 98% protection when used properly.

By “properly,” we mean that you should not do or use anything that might damage the condom, or use an expired one.

Not using condoms properly can reduce their efficacy to around 82%. That’s a significant danger of getting STDs or getting your partner pregnant. So the general advice is to use a fresh condom properly. [Read: Top 10 most common one-night stand mistakes]

6. Are some condoms better than others?

Yes and no. We can say yes because just like a smartphone, you can scrutinize the features of a particular brand of condom and see the materials used, the ISO rating of the manufacturer, and several other details.

Generally, better-engineered condoms come with a price. However, we can also say that no condom is actually better than the other because each will present a different feature catering to the need of a particular consumer group.

7. Are all condoms the same size?

An ill-fitting condom is as good as not wearing a condom at all. Each package will tell you the size range of a particular pack of condoms.

In most cases, it will be Small *3—4.5 inches*, Medium *4.5—6.5 inches*, Large *6.5 – 9 inches*, and XL *9 inches and above*.

8. How should a condom fit?

We’ve said this before, but it’s worth saying it again. The fit of a condom can completely change the way it works. A condom should fit snugly around your penis. Not tight enough that it’s uncomfortable, but also not so loose that it slips off during sex.

If it’s too tight, the condom is much more likely to break. But if it’s too loose, it’s more likely to slip off and accidentally release sperm.

9. What if I’m allergic to latex?

The material that makes up the condom is one of the first things you need to consider. Some people might develop an allergic reaction to latex, the common material used in condoms.

An allergic reaction to latex can cause itching and redness, difficulty breaking, and even anaphylaxis if your allergy is severe.

If you are indeed allergic to latex, you should buy non-latex condoms made from polyurethane or polyisoprene.

Also, make sure you’re not allergic to the lubricant. Most condoms come coated with a water-based lubricant. However, you or your partner can suffer allergies to the generic lubricant that comes with the condom.

In these cases, you should buy unlubricated condoms, and bring your own choice of lubricant that is also compatible with the condom.

[Read: The best lubricants for sex – 15 winners from the kitchen cupboard]

10. Should I choose protection or pleasure?

If you’ve been using condoms for quite some time now, you will notice two design aspects that determine the final output of a condom. It is a tug-of-war between protection and pleasure.

Like anything in life, one cannot have it all, and the same goes for making condoms. No condom can provide an equal measure of pleasure and protection at the same time, and which one you use will depend on your preference.

Condoms that focus on protection

These are thicker than the regular types. They decrease tactile sensation during use, in order to reinforce the condom from breakage. These types are suited for rough sex and anal sex. In addition, these types of condoms are also made to make the user last longer during sex. [Read: Condom facts – did you know these facts about condoms?]

Condoms that focus on pleasure

These sacrifice durability to give you that “almost nothing” feel during sex. These types are chosen by people who generally dislike using condoms at all, but are forced to by the need for protection.

Novelty condoms

These condoms don’t fit any category, but are created for the sheer fun of it. These include exotic-scented, ribbed, studded, glow-in-the-dark, and themed condoms that are fun to look at, but that’s about it.

11. Does wearing two condoms make sex safer?

No! Wearing two condoms—also known as “double-bagging”—doesn’t make sex any safer. If anything, it makes sex riskier!

When you start to have sex with two condoms, the friction between them will cause the latex to break down. That makes the condoms far more likely to break, and far less safe.

[Read: Newsflash – women hate condoms just as much as men do]

12. Why should I bother buying condoms?

There are lots of reasons why you should wear a condom. Not only are they the safest way to have sex, but they also make sex more comfortable and pleasurable.

No matter what your objections to condoms are, there’s no excuse: there are hundreds of brands on the market, so there’s bound to be one that works for you out there somewhere.

Condoms are considered a necessity for a couple to enjoy their sex life. Therefore, it is important to know your facts and find the condom that works best for you.

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Vinod Srinivas Serai
Vin Serai
Vin Serai is the founder of LovePanky.com, and has delved deep into the working of love and relationships for almost two decades. Having dipped his feet in almo...