‘Don’t be bashful’ is the message for young women from a new start-up business aimed at removing the embarrassment from buying condoms.

Beautifully packaged, pretty and discreet, Bashful condoms are being launched online and in small retail outlets on July 1.

The founders of the company are a young brother and sister, Ben (25) and Sammy (24) Hunt, who want to empower young women to take control of their sexual health and reduce the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases amongst young people.

The idea for Bashful came from the siblings’ first hand knowledge of girls’ reluctance to buy or carry condoms.

“Everybody thinks that today’s teenagers are so relaxed about this stuff, but even from talking to my friends, and from listening to some of the conversations Mum would have with the teenage girls she fostered, there is still a really strong stigma about girls carrying condoms,” Sammy said.

More than 50 per cent of Australian teenagers in Years 10 to 12 had unprotected sex in the past year, according to the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (2013), and STis are on the increase in Australia, with long term consequences for young women’s fertility.

According to recently published research from the University of New South Wales (HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmissible infections in Australia: Annual Surveillance Report 2013), young women aged between 15 to 24 years account for over 80 per cent of Chlamydia cases reported in Australia every year. Between 2008 and 2012 the incidence of gonorrhea among the same young female demographic increased by over 100 per cent.

Globally, research has shown that over SO per cent of young people are embarrassed to buy condoms, and that this is particularly the case among young women (Brackett, 2004; Moore et al., 2006) – to the extent that they ultimately chose not to purchase them (Boyce et al, 2006).

“If young girls could overcome their embarrassment about buying and carrying condoms, we believe we could make a real impact on these figures,” Ben said.

Bashful condoms are packaged in brightly coloured cubes – bright fluoro pink and orange, for strawberry flavour for example – with the Bashful logo of a silver elephant and the words ‘Don’t forget me’.

“The elephant is a very cute little logo which represents ‘the elephant in the room’ when it comes to condoms and young women,” Sammy said.

“Elephants also have a reputation for never forgetting – which is a useful message for young women who should make sure they always remember to protect their sexual health.”

For a complete list of stockists or to buy Bashful condoms online go to bashfulcondoms.com

Mandy O’Brien, Bashful Australia, 0412 850 431 \ mandy@bashfulaustralia.com