While there are some products that have age restrictions for purchase in stores (like alcohol), condoms are not one of them. Teens can buy condoms in most drugstores and supermarkets without showing ID.
A recent study found that adolescents as young as 12 years old already have complex belief systems about sex. These findings should be taken into account when promoting safe sex.
Age of Consent by State
In most of the US you don’t have to be a certain age to buy condoms. The age of consent varies by state, but usually you can purchase them in any supermarket or pharmacy without being asked to prove your age. You can also find them at most gas stations and convenience stores, typically stocked near feminine hygiene products, although they may be behind a counter or locked up in some places. Some pharmacies and convenience stores even have condom vending machines, which are great if you’re shy or want to avoid other people looking at you!
Teens can also get free condoms from their GP, sexual health (GUM) clinic or a young person’s service like Brook. There are also community-based schemes that run locally which allow you to buy condoms at a low cost or for free, such as the C-Card scheme in Ireland.
It’s worth noting that if you are under the age of 16 and you have sex with someone older than 16, it is against the law. So if your 13 year old is asking you to help her get condoms to have sex with her older boyfriend, I’d suggest you have a difficult conversation and encourage her to wait until she is at least 14. You can still talk about responsible sex and explain that having sex under the age of 16 is illegal and can lead to serious consequences including STDs and unwanted pregnancies.
How to Buy Condoms
The age limit for purchasing condoms should not be an issue for teens because they are important to protect against unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The goal of promoting safe sex practices among teenagers and young adults is to help reduce unintended pregnancy rates and STD infection rates.
Condoms are available in most drugstores, supermarkets, convenience stores, and even vending machines on college campuses. It is a good idea to choose the type of condom you need beforehand, especially if it is your first time buying them. Doing so can save you time at the store and ensure that you get the right size.
If you’re self-conscious about buying condoms, bring a friend to the store. They can either help you with the purchase or offer moral support. It’s also helpful to remember that the salespeople at your local chemist or retailer sell them all the time, so they are not going to judge you for making this responsible purchase.
If you’re worried that you might run into someone who knows you at the store, try to go during off-hours or drive to a different town to shop. You can also use a prepaid credit or debit card to make the purchase so that it doesn’t appear on your bank statement. You can also visit a teen clinic or HIV/STD prevention center to get condoms for free.
Where to Buy Condoms
Condoms are a convenient and affordable form of contraception, and they’re widely available at most drugstores and supermarkets. They are typically kept in the health or family planning aisle, and they can also be purchased online. If you’re nervous about buying condoms in person, it may help to decide which brand and size you want ahead of time. This will help you avoid wandering awkwardly up and down the condom aisles and will give you a sense of confidence when deciding to buy them.
If you’re concerned about running into someone you know when you go to buy condoms, it may be helpful to buy them at a different location. You could try a local convenience store or gas station to minimize the risk of run-ins. Alternatively, you can purchase them online and have them shipped to yourself or a trusted friend’s house in an unmarked padded envelope.
Some teen clinics and HIV/STD prevention centers offer free condoms for teens. You can call ahead to check if your local clinic offers this service and then visit them during business hours to pick up a bag of free condoms. This is a good option for teens who are not comfortable buying condoms in public. However, be aware that these free condoms are usually of a lower quality than commercial ones and may break easily if additional condom-safe lubricant is not added prior to sexual activity.
Buying Condoms Online
You can also get condoms from your local GP or sexual health clinic, or you might be eligible for some schemes that run locally where you live. It is recommended that you use condoms at all times when having sex, even if you have no intention of becoming pregnant or getting an STI.
You might be worried about being spotted buying condoms, but it’s really not as embarrassing as you think. Most people don’t pay a lot of attention to what other people are purchasing. And even if they do, it’s not like someone is walking around with a sign hanging from their neck saying “I’m about to buy some condoms!”
If you are still unsure, try going in during the early morning or late at night so that you have less chance of running into people you know. Also, make sure that you go with a friend so that they can distract the cashier or chemist while you pick out what you need.
Alternatively, you can visit a teen clinic or HIV/STD prevention center to purchase condoms for free. Some of these are open to the public and may not ask for your ID at all.