Category Archives: safe sex

Pharmacy Shame (AKA Who will buy the condoms?)


We go to Canada twice a year- when we first settled in Nairobi in 2008- there was little to no access to my “known” products from North America- I am talking about deodorant, favorite shampoos, creams, etc… also our favorite condoms.   Things have come a long way, and I no longer have a full bag of beauty supplies to lie my way through customs with- however there is still this funny thing that happens every time we go into a pharmcay while we are in Canada.

Contraceptives are important to us- I have many friends who have had trouble conceiving, and it is a very hard road- but I have to be honest that it is not a struggle that we face.  My husband and I have “tried” twice- and have one toddler and I am currently 39 weeks pregnant- so this is not a game for us.   We have to be careful.   I should also say that because of being at high risk for stroke, being an abnormal migraine sufferer, hormonal options are not, well, options!

So naturally part of our bi- annual shoppers drug mart visits are condoms.  Every time, we have a little battle of who will buy the condoms.  The toss up is usually that I am FROM this small town, the cashiers are either past students of mine (I used to teach elementary school), parents of students of mine, or friends of my parents… which is why I always ask my husband to buy them.

My husband also doesn’t want to buy them, we spend a few minutes every time passing them back and forth- and I am not sure why it feels so awkward.  There are a couple of things that I find really funny about it:

Men grow up wanting people to think that they are having lots of intercourse- its my understanding that is how they want to be known to their friends- at one point it was thought that men were thinking about sex every seven seconds!!  This has since been questioned- and now thought it is more like between 15-19 times a day… you can read a BBC article on the topic here .  Bottom line is- its important to men!

Women want sex too, and talk about it all the time with their girlfriends, share intimate details- and brag about certain pieces, and according to the same article above- think about it about 10 times a day.

So what are we afraid of when we buy condoms?  That people will see we have listened in sex ed class?  That we are committed to controlling the spread and contracting of dangerous and pesky STIs?   That we are taking the responsibility for ourselves and our bodies into our own hands- that we are saying we don’t want unplanned pregnancies- we want to be responsible for our lives, and for those of others?  We want to exercise our right to choose to wear or ask our partner to wear a condom?

Are these bad things?

I just can’t wrap my head around it.

Lastly, the bag at our pharmacy is semi see through- which poses a whole bunch of other challenges as well- like having to buy two bags of chips with it, or enough snacks that it can be encased and not have the label pasted against the outside… because as a grown up, married couple with 1.9 kids- we wouldn’t want anyone to know we have intercourse.

Safe sex everyone!

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