Condoms are the only form of sexual protection that can both reduce your chances of pregnancy and prevent transmission of sexual infections. They’re a fairly inexpensive form of protection. Read on for more information about how to buy condoms.

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Many people wonder where to buy condoms or what age you have to be to buy condoms. You can buy condoms at any age — there are no age restrictions on who can purchase them. Although some teens may be a bit nervous buying condoms for the first time, cashiers sell condoms all the time and won’t bat an eye at your purchase. This includes both external and internal (male and female) condoms.

You do not need an ID to buy condoms. There are no laws or regulations that state you must show ID. In fact, how to buy condoms is pretty much like how to buy tampons. Simply head to the pharmacy or store and you’ll probably find condoms not too far from menstrual hygiene products.

Condoms are sold in a wide variety of shops. You can find them in a pharmacy, grocery store, or big-box department store like Target or Walmart. Many gas stations or convenience stores also sell smaller packages of condoms. You can sometimes even purchase condoms from vending machines in clubs or bars. Health clinics sometimes give them away for free. They can also be bought online.

Condoms are sold in packs of 3, which can cost anywhere from $4 to $8, or in larger boxes of 12 or more. However, when you’re buying condoms, especially from a vending machine or a gas station, check the expiration date. The latex that condoms are made out of can break down over time, and if a condom is expired, there’s a higher chance it will break during intercourse, rendering it mostly ineffective.

Condoms are also sensitive to high temperatures, so be careful where you purchase them and how you store them. For example, wallets and windowsills may be too warm and cause the condom to degrade.

The type of condoms you buy depends on your and your partner’s preferences. Many people like to purchase their own condoms, because they know what brand and style best fits their penis and is comfortable for them. However, if you plan to have sex, it’s always best to have a few of your own, just in case.

If you and your partner choose to use an internal (female) condom instead, this may be a purchase you’d prefer to make for yourself. The internal condom is designed to fit inside the vagina or anus, but it’s looser than an external (male) condom. It works in much the same way, as a barrier method of birth control and sexually transmitted infection (STI) protection. Internal condoms can be inserted in the vagina before sex, just like you’d insert a tampon. In fact, you can insert the condom up to 8 hours before having sex. Some couples prefer the feel of the internal condom because it’s looser around the penis, giving the man different sensations. Do not, however, use an external condom and an internal condom at the same time, as this can cause both condoms to tear. Don’t use two external condoms at once either for the same reason.

There are many different kinds of condoms that come in different sizes. Some condoms are created from materials other than latex, which makes them ideal for people who have latex allergies. This is something to discuss before having sex with a condom to prevent an allergic reaction.

Not all latex or latex alternative condoms are lubricated. For some couples, a lubricated condom can help ease intercourse and may be more pleasurable for both partners. There are some condoms sold with spermicidal lubricant, too, which may give you both added pregnancy protection.

Some condoms are created from materials other than latex, which makes them ideal for people who have latex allergies.

Another alternative to latex condoms is lambskin condoms created from the skin of a lamb. Here’s a fun historical fact: Lambskin condoms have been around for centuries. In the Middle Ages, they were decorated with small ribbons, which were used to fasten and tighten the condom. Today’s lambskin condoms aren’t that fancy, but they’re popular for some couples because this material allows the man to feel more sensations during intercourse. It’s important to note that lambskin condoms will not prevent STIs and are less effective than latex or latex alternative condoms for preventing pregnancy.

Other condoms are created to add to the sex experience by providing different sensations. Some condoms are made to be very thin, allowing the man to feel different sensations. Others have ribbing, little nubs, or other embellishments across the surface to create different sensations in the vagina during intercourse.

Novelty condoms, like glow-in-the-dark or flavored, are also effective. Since they’re made of latex, they should provide the same protection that a regular latex condom would. Flavored condoms may be a viable alternative when engaging in oral sex to provide protection from STIs that can be transmitted from the penis to the mouth or throat.

Many public health care clinics will give you free condoms. You may need to make an appointment with a doctor or nurse, or you may be able to simply go in and ask the front desk for condoms. These health care clinics may also provide free or reduced-price hormonal birth control pills, an additional form of protection for you in case a condom fails. If it takes a while for your prescription birth control to become effective, you should use condoms until it works.

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Using condoms is the only way you can protect yourself against both STIs and pregnancy. You don’t have to be 18 to buy condoms, and if you live in an area with a free health clinic, then you may be able to get condoms for free. Although it may be a little embarrassing to buy or ask for condoms, your reproductive health is important, and it’s up to you to ensure that when you have sex, you’re protected. Make sure to use condoms correctly every time you have sex for maximum protection.

Updated on April 7, 2020

Olga Adereyko, MD — Primary Care Physician, General Practitioner, Medical Consultant at