The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued a notice to not wash and reuse condoms, but instead use a new one for each sex act.
— CDC STD (@CDCSTD) July 23, 2018
“We say it because people do it,” the CDC said in its tweet, indicating it was aware that many people’s reaction would be, “What?!”
While condoms might seem like a reasonably affordable commodity, the fact that people are attempting to reuse them suggests for many they are a strain on an already stretched budget. With the average condom costing the consumer over $1, despite being cheap to produce, and the risks associated with having unprotected, or poorly protected, sex, knowing where to find free condoms can be an essential part of your safer sex practices.
LGBTQ Centers & OrganizationsLGBTQ community centers, youth centers, and other organizations are a reliable place to check for free condoms. Typically they will either be at the front desk, in a lobby or reception area, or in the bathrooms. HIV/AIDS services organizations are especially likely to provide condoms, as well as other offerings, such as STD testing and information about safer sex practices.
Bars, Bathhouses, & LGBTQ EventsJeffrey Greenberg/UIG via Getty Images
Bars, especially but not limited to LGBTQ bars and clubs, are another place to look for a bowl of free condoms. They will most often be in the bathrooms, near the door, or on the bar itself. If you don’t see any, you might try asking a bartender or another member of staff if they have any available, behind the bar or elsewhere.
LGBTQ events, or LGBTQ nights at otherwise non-gay bars, are another option. Many times there will be people handing out condoms, or they will be available on a table or booth.
Local Health DepartmentClassen Rafael / EyeEm
Your local health department should also supply free condoms. Like HIV/AIDS services organizations, while you’re there you can also look into a free STD screening, as well as obtain information about protecting yourself while having sex.
College Health CenterMaskot/Getty Images
If you’re a college student, your university’s health center is the most likely place on campus to provide free condoms. Notably, if you attend a Catholic school, it is unlikely they will have prophylactics on offer, so you will probably need to rely on one of the other listed options.
Nurse’s Office or Health CenterPeter Dazeley/Getty Images
Again, this is not a surefire option depending on where you go to school, but if you’re a high school student, or, admittedly less likely still, in junior high, you might be able to obtain free condoms from the nurse’s office or health center.
Doctor’s Officeflukyfluky/Getty Images
Your doctor is another ideal person to ask about protection. After all, they are in your life for the sole purpose of helping you look after your health and might even bring up the topic themselves.
Planned ParenthoodScott Olson/Getty Images
Your local Planned Parenthood office is another key go-to spot if you’re looking for protection but are short on funds. Planned Parenthood also offers STD screenings. Enter your zip code on its website to find the location nearest you.
Look OnlineCaiaimage/Paul Bradbury
If you want to cut to the chase, and avoid wasting time checking a series of offices and bars for bowls of condoms, check out CondomFinder.org. Simply plug in your zip code and it will show you the various places around you to go and score those free rubbers.
Local OptionsDizzy/Getty Images
Some states and regions have their own search engines for locating free condoms as well.
Ask a FriendSupreeya Chantalao / EyeEm
When in doubt, reach out to a trusted friend, or even a family member if you have the kind of relationship where you can talk openly about such topics, and see if they can help you out. Your loved ones, if they are worth keeping around anyway, should be more than happy to help you protect yourself and your partners.