Overcoming Condom Embarrassment

by Jamie Porter, University Health Center health promotions analyst

What if someone I know sees me? What will the employees think of me?

If you have had some of these thoughts when preparing to buy condoms at a drug or grocery store, you’re not alone. One of the most frequently mentioned barriers to consistent condom use among college students is feeling embarrassed, awkward, or dread when buying condoms (Crosby et al, 2003; Bryan et al, 1996; Wendt et al, 1995).

Here are our top tips for not letting these feelings prevent you from taking care of you and your partner(s):

  1. Try thinking of condoms in the same way as you do any other self-care product. They are just as necessary as deodorant, toothpaste or feminine hygiene products. This may help you feel more comfortable when interacting with the employee at the checkout counter. They see countless customers all buying similar products.
  2. Utilize Protection Connection. This free service provided by University Health Center’s Health Promotion and Outreach delivers a wide variety of safer sex supplies to your residence. It is discreet and no one will be the wiser.
  3. Use a self-checkout option at the store. Many stores now include several checkout stations where you do not have to interact with employees.
  4. Stop by Health Promotion and Outreach (University Health Center Room 12) to pick up a couple of Cover-It-Kits. It’s our job to talk to students about how they can practice safer sex. This helps us make students feel more comfortable asking questions and for the tools to keep themselves healthy.
  5. Purchase your condoms at the University Health Center Pharmacy or the pharmacy you frequently use. Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are professionals who work to provide customers with the tools they need to keep themselves healthy.

Bonus tip: You can also often find Cover-It-Kits in the LGBTQA+ Resource Center, Women’s Center, in your residence hall bathroom or with your resident Wellness Advocate.

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