EPIC Director of Medical and Educational Services Bridget Narvaez, RN

Lots of love is in the air. Many sweethearts are out scrambling to buy those last-minute Valentine’s Day cards, chocolates and roses. It’s also always important to pick up protection to keep safe during sex.

In recognition of National Condom Month in February, we want to encourage everyone who’s having sex to use condoms with every act, every time. Condoms are proven to be a highly-effective protection against pregnancy and sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) and sexually-transmitted infections (STIs).

Bridget Narvaez, RN serves as the director of medical and educational services at EPIC (Empath Partners in Care). In part 1 this month, Narvaez discusses types of condoms, how much they cost, where to find them and how to store them.

Q&A: EPIC’s Bridget Narvaez

1. What kinds of condoms are there?

There are various types of condoms. The first condoms were made from animal membrane (sheep or lambskin), which we don’t advocate to use because they’re very porous and can allow infections. As technology advances and more information is gained in regards to protection for sexual health, there has been more creativity and innovation with condoms. There are now latex, thin, opaque, dry and powder (lubricant needed) and several novelty condoms, such as glow-in-the-dark, ribbed, bumps and flavored (usually for oral sex).

The latest and the greatest is the female condom. A lot of individuals are aware that there’s a female condom and we can provide education about the proper use of that condom. It looks a little different, however it can protect females in a very good way because they can place the condom up to two hours in advance of intercourse.

Everyone needs to understand the type of condom they have and the proper usage. Whenever there’s any type of intercourse or sexual act, people need to use a new condom. Consistent condom use helps prevent pregnancy and the transmission or contraction of HIV/AIDS and other STDs and STIs. That’s having safe sex. Condom size does matter. Everybody isn’t made the same.

2. Where can you get condoms and what’s the cost?

People can come and get them for free at all of our EPIC locations. There’s no condom that fits all. We make sure to have the female condoms and various types of male condoms available.

The Florida Department of Health Department carries free condoms and other Pinellas County facilities might also have free distribution. Local pharmacies and stores carry different types of condoms for purchase, including CVS, Walgreens, Walmart (pharmacy section) and grocery stores (health and wellness sections). They may also be sold at sex stores or in condom dispensers at bars.

The cost depends on the location of purchase and the type, brand and amount of condoms you get. Some places may sell them for a small fee, as little as $.50 or $1.00. Some boxes can get as high as $20.

3. How should you store them?

You want to keep them in a cool, dry place. They shouldn’t be exposed to a lot of heat or sunlight for a long period of time because they’ll no longer be effective. Tight clothing or anything that causes friction can break down the outer part of condoms. You don’t want anything near them that will cause any damage where they can easily break, be punctured or become brittle. All condoms have expiration dates. You should throw them away if they are expired, have tears present or don’t have air pockets/bubbles present.

Get Free Condoms

Visit our EPIC locations in Clearwater, St. Petersburg and Tampa or mobile unit to get free condoms or HIV testing. For more information, call us at (727) 328-3260 in Pinellas or (813) 237-3066 in Hillsborough.