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Sexplanations: Condom Conundrums

Sexplanations is an anonymous Q&A column to increase access to information regarding sex, sexual health, sexuality, relationships and the promotion of sexual respect at Grinnell College. Questions are answered collaboratively by the Sexual Health Information Center (SHIC), the Stonewall Resource Center (SRC) and the Office of Wellness and Prevention. Submit questions at

Where can I get condoms on campus? How many can I get? How do I use them? 

Thanks for the help, 

Condom Conundrum 

Hi Condom Conundrum, 

Using condoms and dental dams is the best way to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STI) and demonstrate that you care about both your health and the health of your partner, so we’re glad you asked! There are many places on campus where you can get condoms and dental dams. Most community advisors (CA) will have a bag of condoms and dental dams on the bulletin boards outside their door. Student Health and Counseling Service (SHACS), located in the forum, also has condoms, dental dams and lube available. Sexual Health Information Center (SHIC), located in the lobby of Main Hall also has a wide variety of condoms and dental dams available for free. Most of these places request that you only take a few items each time you visit. 

Before you use a condom or dental dam and even while you’re using them, it’s necessary that you and your partner are both clearly and enthusiastically consenting to sexual activity. It’s then important to check the expiration date and feel for an air bubble inside the package to ensure that the protection you’re using isn’t damaged. To use a condom with a consenting partner, remove the condom from its packaging, making sure to carefully tear open the wrapper — never use your teeth or scissors. If the condom looks old, brittle or damaged — even if the expiration date is good, get a new condom. Next, place the condom on the tip of the penis making sure it is placed so that it can roll down. Then, with one hand, pinch the tip of the condom so that it extends a little past the tip of the penis. With your other hand, roll the condom down the shaft of the penis until it is secure. Make sure to hold the condom at the base of the penis when inserting it into your partner, pulling out of your partner, immediately after ejaculation and when changing positions. If varying between oral and penetrative sex or if the condom has slipped off or looks damaged during intercourse, use a new condom. Always throw used or damaged condoms in the trash. If you still have questions, feel free to stop by SHIC or SHACS, or check out reliable online resources such as Bedsider, Planned Parenthood and Go Ask Alice.  


How do you start a conversation with your friends about sexuality? 

Thanks for all the advice, 

Looking for support  


Hey Looking for Support,  

We’re glad you felt comfortable to ask us, and just like you jumped right in with this question, we recommend you take a breath and plunge into the gritty of it with your friends. 

Sometimes hints and subtle suggestions to signal queer sexuality will get reactions from friends that can serve as entry points to conversation, but there’s also a big potential that they’ll be swept to the wayside and leave you feeling like dust. Being vague or non-self-referential (like, hey, how about that new legislation that’s ironically fucking all the gays out here?) can definitely be helpful for figuring out where your friend’s queer sexuality awareness is at, but again it can lead to misunderstandings or nasty political debates. This isn’t a knock against using these tools — they are survival strategies after all. 

I prefer bluntness in these matters. “So, um, I think I’ve been feeling some attraction to guys.” Such directness lays out my respect for my friend. If they say they’re my friend and they support me, then I’m trusting them to follow through with their support whether it’s for my mental health or because I want to spoon the cute boi in anthro. In my experience, one of three things happen here. One, they get weird and defensive and act incredulous. Two, they politely nod but keep a measured distance. Sometimes they just need some time to process and work through stigma and discomfort before fully engaging. Or three, they perk up, lean in and the discussion really gets cooking. It’s a mixed bag, but for me it’s better than having to play games. 

If you need some quality queers to talk this out with, come by the Stonewall Resource Center (SRC) located in Younker Pit! For more structured and guaranteed interactions, get involved with: Asexuality/Aromantic Spectrum Support Network [ASN] on Wednesdays at 9 p.m.; Queer People of Color [QPOC] on Tuesdays at 9 p.m.; or Queer Mentorship Program by emailing [QMP]. 




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