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Pharmacies that keep their condoms in locked cases cite shoplifting as the main rationale for the safe-sex lock-up. When shoppers are ashamed to buy sex-related items, the theory goes, they’re more likely to steal them—-instead of sheepishly carrying them to the counter. But condom shame could hold a hidden benefit for pharmacies as well: When customers do buy condoms, they’re more likely to impulse-buy other items, as well.

Online pharmacy mastersdirect.com has conducted a survey about pharmacy shopping habits which is probably mostly bullshit. But the dubious reporting here may hold some truths about pharmacy hang-ups:

* “One out of 10 men said . . . they have had unprotected sex because they were too embarrassed to buy condoms from a pharmacy.”

* “A quarter has simply walked out of a pharmacy because they were too embarrassed to ask for a particular health product.”

* “Thrush creams, tampons and pregnancy tests also made people feel conspicuous. In an attempt to hide their embarrassment over their purchases, well over a third had even bought something they didn’t need as a ‘cover-up’.”

If the last statement is true, pharmacies may not be too eager to reduce the stigma of condom purchasing in their stores. If purchases of condoms, tampons, and lube are accompanied by a lucrative cover, why tone-down your employees’ sex-product gawking?

Personally, I’ve never been so embarrassed to buy a health product that I’ve walked out of the store. But I have definitely picked up a cover item or two to balance out my sex-related purchase. I usually go for the gummy bears—-cheap, tasty, close to the counter. I can’t really explain why I find that necessary. Am I afraid the cashier will know that I’m on my period? That I plan to have sex soon? That I plan to have reduced-friction sex soon? Why, instead, would I prefer that the cashier know I’m bleeding out of my vagina, want to have sex, and require a snack?

Photo by Darrow Montgomery