Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Getting Condoms

What can I expect when I go to one of the places on the map for free condoms?

All of the sites listed have agreed to be on this map – which means they have agreed to provide free condoms in a teen-friendly, non-judgmental environment. Condoms are free in all locations listed, but there may be special requirements to receive the condoms in some locations. The four colored flags next to the site will tell you which sites have other requirements:

  • Provides both medical services* & free condoms - DO NOT need to get medical services to receive free condoms
  • Provides medical services* & free condoms - DO need to sign up for services to receive condoms
  • Provides free condoms but no medical services*
  • School-based health centers (you may need to be a student at the school to get free condoms)

*Medical services provided vary by clinic, but may include sexual and reproductive health services, like STD testing, pregnancy tests, birth control, pap smears, etc.

We have worked hard to make sure all sites are marked correctly on the map so you know where to find the free condoms when you visit a site. Please let us know if you have any trouble picking up condoms at one of the sites listed on the map by emailing us at

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If I am able to choose to have condoms mailed to me what will come in the package?

10 condoms, lubricant (to reduce the chance of breakage), and some educational materials. The package will arrive at the address you provide in a plain yellow envelop addressed to you. Here is a photo of the stuff that will be inside the mailer:

10 condoms, lubricant, and some educational materials

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Why do you include lubricant in the home mailer?

Lubricant is a water-based, slippery liquid that can help prevent condoms from breaking during use and may prevent irritation caused by the skin-on-skin friction that can happen during sex.

Important things to remember about lubricant:

  • Only use WATER-based lubricants that are made for the purpose of having sex. The lubricant included in the home mailer is water-based.
  • Never use anything oil-based on a condom (such as Vaseline, baby oil, body lotion or vegetable oils) because the oil weakens the latex and can cause condoms to break!
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Are there any other websites where I can order free condoms to be mailed to me at home?

If you live in Los Angeles County, you can order free condoms to be shipped to you at home from!

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STDs and Condoms

How do condoms work to make having sex more safe?

Condoms are the only birth control method that can also prevent STDs and HIV when you have vaginal, anal, or oral sex. They can also be used with other birth control methods for double protection.  Never use two condoms at one time – that does not provide better protection! The male condom is a thin covering that fits over an erect penis.  A condom prevents skin to skin contact, which is how many STDs are passed from person to person. Condoms can be made out of different materials. Read more about using condoms.

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Are condoms 100% effective in preventing pregnancy and STDs?

There are no condoms that prevent pregnancy and STDs 100% of the time.  Choosing not to have sex is the only 100% effective way to avoid pregnancy and STDs. 

But if you and your partner are having sex, nothing protects against both STDs and pregnancy better than a condom used correctly.  If you are having sex, condoms must be used every time to protect against STDs even when using another method of birth control.  Even when used correctly, condoms do not protect against infections spread from sores on the skin that are not covered by a condom (such as the base of the penis or scrotum).

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How do I use a condom correctly?

Talk to your partner about using a condom in advance.

Before using a condom, make sure you know which way it unrolls. Pull back the foreskin of the penis and unroll the condom all the way to the base of the penis. 

Change the condom if the penis is exposed to a different site (i.e. moves from anus to vagina). Remove the condom immediately after you ejaculate (cum). Withdraw the penis while holding the rim of the condom at the base of the penis to avoid having any cum spill out. The condom should be used just once and then thrown away. Do not use at the same time as the female condom and do not use 2 condoms at once (“double bagging”) as this can cause them to break. Read more about condoms.

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How do I know if I have an STD? 

Most people who have chlamydia or gonorrhea do not have any symptoms.  STDs can lead to serious long term health problems if they are not treated. If you have had unprotected sex, it’s good to get tested.  Learn more about where to get free or low cost confidential testing and treatment near you!

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What are STDs and how are they spread?

Many STDs, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, HPV, herpes, hepatitis B and syphilis, can be spread by any type of sex. Chlamydia and gonorrhea are the most common STDs and they are especially common among teens and young adults.

Abstaining from sex is the only 100% effective way to prevent infection with an STD.  But if you decide you are ready for sex, then using a latex barrier, like condoms or dental dams, can help protect you and your partner from getting an STD. Read more about STDs and ways to prevent from getting them.

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Talking About Sex

How do I know if I am ready to have sex?

Great question! Only you can answer it, but taking your time to think about it and talking it over with people you trust, including your partner, can help you to make a decision that is right for you. Sex Etc has a list of questions you can ask yourself when deciding whether or not you are ready to have sex.

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What are some ways to talk to my parents about CAP?

Talking about sex with your parents might be awkward, but sometimes teens who talk to their folks about sex are more likely to make smarter decisions about sex, like choosing the right partner, being sure the sex they have is safe, or even deciding to wait a little longer to start having sex. Plus, even if it grosses you out to think about it, your parents know their stuff when it comes to sex - and they're a lot easier to get in touch with than Dr. Drew.

You can visit the About CAP section to find information about the program to use when talking to your parents. Find more info about ways to talk to your parents about sex.

Parents: To read more about why CAP is important for California teens please visit our About CAP page.

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How can I talk to my partner about using a condom without them freaking out?

If you are ready to have sex, get yourself talking with your partner about protection. Having direct conversations about sex, protection, pregnancy prevention and STDs can be difficult, but it’s about taking care of yourself and your partner. So take some time to get informed.  Abstinence is still the best way to avoid getting an STD or becoming pregnant.  However, if you choose to have sex, condoms are the only type of protection that can reduce your risk of both pregnancy and STDs – and they can be really effective if you use them correctly and every time you have sex. Learn how to use condoms correctly every time.

Talking about condoms with your partner is a demonstration of respect for your partner and yourself. Your GF / BF will probably be relieved that you’re taking the lead to start the conversation about protection and using condoms.  Here are some talking tips to help you start the condom conversation.

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