Dear Alice,

I am a shy person, and I feel embarrassed to buy condoms over-the-counter. Are there other ways of obtaining them? Thanks for answering!

Mr. Condom

Dear Mr. Condom,

It's fantastic that you're a fan of condoms, and you're not the only one who feels a tad sheepish seeking them out. If you're a Columbia student, the first step is to take a look at the safer sex map. You'll see a number of locations around Columbia that have safer sex supplies on hand. More specifically, you can get free condoms (and lube) on campus at Medical Services on the 4th floor of John Jay Hall, Alice! Health Promotion on the 7th floor of Lerner Hall, or through your resident advisor (RA). If these options still make you blush, maybe you can ask a friend to grab a few for your sake, and share the love.

If you go to a store for your stash, one strategy might be to pick out some other items first, so condoms aren't the sole focus of attention. If you'd rather avoid any face time altogether, you've got a handful of options: you can place orders by mail, on the phone, or online. Many magazines have ads with catalogues and order forms to buy condoms. Some sexuality specialty shops, which you can probably find in a local phone book or through a quick search on the 'net, will let you to place an order over the phone. Another option is to check-out at an online store. Search for "buy condoms online," and you'll find a plethora of possibilities.

Many of these businesses not only promise plain packaging, they have run-of-the-mill company names, too. That way, someone reading your credit card bill will have no idea you're buying condoms — in case you're concerned. Also, you can save yourself some embarrassment (and some dough) if you buy in bulk. Just keep an eye on those expiration dates.

Many people feel embarrassed about being public about sexual things. But, you might think about it this way: sex is natural and healthy, and you can take pride in the fact that you're being safe, responsible, and respectful of your partner by buying condoms. Latex = Love!

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