And yet you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who uses condoms every time they should when having sex (and by should I mean every time they have sex in a way that puts them at risk for an STI or pregnancy. If they don't want one of those things…if they do we don't call it risk, we call it trying). Beyond using a condom every time you have sex, lots of us don't use condoms ever or even often, and the results can range from a minor to life altering.
Sometimes the problem is that you don't have a condom. Sometimes the problem is that you don't have money to buy them. Whether that's because of bad prioritization (what did you spend that money on?) or being flat out broke, if you want to have lots of sex with fewer bad surprises, there are options. It requires a bit of planning and a little work, but there are free condoms to be had, if you know where to get them.
Most places will require that you go in person to pick up the condoms. There's at least one program (in California) where they will mail you 10 condoms, plus lube, free of charge. Of course you may not want a package coming to your door where anyone could find it and open it, so even though going to some business or office can take time and feel awkward, you get to be in control, and you can make sure no one follows you there!
New services for free condoms are popping up all the time, and services that currently exist can lose funding and shut down, but you can use the links below as a starter guide to finding free condoms near (or near-ish) you.
Sexual Health Clinics
Most sexual health clinics will have free condoms in the waiting room or reception area. Yes you may get a few stares, but if you're embarrassed or shy you can keep your head down and the few minutes of awkwardness may just be the price you pay for free condoms. Some might say that if you're uncomfortable letting people know you want condoms maybe you should figure out ways to have sex that don't require condoms. I'd say sometimes that's true, and other times it isn't. In any case no one said sex was easy, even if it is fun, and for free condoms it's a fair trade off.
How to Find a Sexual Health Clinic Near You
Some sexual health clinics, and organizations that manage several clinics, offer searchable maps on their site to find free condoms. You can do a search for free condom finder and include your city, town, or state. Here are two examples of web based condom finders, the first is national and the second is restricted to California:
CARES Condom Finder
Created in 2012, this site offers a national searchable google map with locations where you can pick up free condoms. There aren't a lot of details about each location (other than the address) so I'd suggest calling first unless it's clear that it's a health clinic to make sure the information is accurate and up to date.
Condom Access Project
There are several sites that offer local or state listings for free condoms. Teensource,.org's Condom Access Project is a good example for people in California.
In the past few years public health departments and sexual health organizations have begun to develop apps for smart phones that allow you to find the closest location to you where fee condoms are available. Many of these, unfortunately, don't just list free condoms but also stores where you can buy condoms. If you're out of money save yourself some time by double checking that the listing is for free condoms, and it's usually worth calling ahead to make sure the information in the app is up to date. You can search app stores for "free condom finder" and if you want to check out a few of the established apps, there are ones for New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago up and running.