Cheap Condoms: Spread the Love, and Only the Love
Will's post about Valentine's Day not only made me snork my coffee when I read it this morning, but also surprised me with a number of its factoids. For instance, who knew that Germans had a word for love?
I'll just go ahead and admit that I hadn't thought much about increased condom purchases due to the impending arrival of the Holiday of Love (from Will's post):
According to the condom company Durex, condom sales are highest around Valentine's Day, which are 20 percent to 30 percent higher than usual. More at-home pregnancy tests are sold in March than in any other month. Penicillin, a popular treatment for venereal diseases such as syphilis, was introduced to the world on February 14, 1929.
That got me thinking about the importance of protection, especially on a holiday that is all about spreading the love, but hopefully nothing else. And I'm not just thinking about ANY protection! We're talking cheap protection, or at least, protection that is discounted (those who are going to write to me to tell me that the cheapest protection is abstinence, I have a couple of articles that I'd like to you look at).
Anyone who has ever done a search for "free condoms" online has doubtlessly been disappointed. Unless you are incarcerated, or a student in a university with caring hall reps, or attending Carnival, your chances of snagging some free jimhats is pretty slim. There are, however, a few ways to get cheaper access to birth control.
Condoms & Dams
Planned Parenthood clinics are a good place to score free condoms. They'll usually give out condoms and dental dams without asking any questions, but it never hurts to sit down and have a chat with a clinician about safe sex. Hey, throw in a couple of STD tests while you're there, just to have the peace of mind - can you think of a better Valentine's Day gift to yourself than knowing all you need to know about your sexual health?
PP offers services on a sliding scale, and has a more liberal idea of what constitutes financial need than, say, the federal government. A chart of pricing by income is available here.
You can get a 12-pack of condoms for only $0.99 (including shipping) here.
Ordering in bulk? Try the discounts to be had at this website. (Warning - highly disturbing logo)
Both JollyJohns and Bandarama have tedious, spam-indviting surveys that you can fill out to get free condoms shipped to you (or at least, you can put you $70 Drugstore.com coupon towards them - your choice).
Get a free sample of Astroglide here.
Keep in mind that condoms are your best bet for protection from everything, from pregnancy to STDs.
You can't currently order things like birth control pills online, but you can find some discounts. As mentioned above, Planned Parenthood offers birth control fairly cheaply to those who need it. And while I never advocate taking advantage of a place like Planned Parenthood, if you are in a tight spot financially, I hear that they don't actually CHECK your financial background. You'll still get the goods.
If you are looking for a chance to risk everything on a new birth control method, you can always join a clinical trial.
United Networks offer the UNA Card, a discount card that will apparently get you up to 55% of selected drugs, including birth control (you still need a prescription to order birth control, but if you don't have insurance, this might not be a bad option). You just enter your info, submit it, and then print out the card. Participating pharmacies are listed there as well.
After the fact
So your birth control failed you on February 14th? Well, Plan B has been available for a few months as an over-the-counter drug in the following states: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Maine, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and Washington. Planned Parenthood, as always, can help you find emergency contraception in almost any location. If you live somewhere in which getting your hands on Plan B is darn near impossible, there's always Dr. Matt Wise's website.