There are many options for birth control. From hormonal options like the pill, the ring, or the shot, to non-hormonal options like condoms or the copper IUD. Having multiple types of birth control helps put women in control of their bodies, reproductive health, and sexual pleasure. A new non-hormonal birth control gel called Phexxi just hit the market, and lucky for you, I’ll give you the scoop. 

Jenn Explores Phexxi Birth Control

Phexxi is a prescription only, hormone free gel that is inserted into the vagina right before penis in vagina sex. Once inserted, Phexxi lasts up to an hour to prevent pregnancy. It works by keeping the vaginal pH at a level that does not encourage sperm movement. Your vaginal pH changes when aroused, making it a pH that is welcoming to sperm, encouraging the sperm to meet up with an egg once inside of the vagina and uterus. Phexxi maintains a pH of 3.5 to 4.5, which is a neutral level that does not encourage sperm movement. Phexxi is designed just to prevent pregnancy and does not protect against any STDs. It should also not be used if you use a vaginal ring birth control method. Because it lasts up to an hour, you should ideally insert it right before you have vaginal sex, but as long as you have sex within that hour window, it will be effective. If you have vaginal sex again after the hour is up, you should insert another dose. 

Using Phexxi seems very simple, and there is even a really informative video on their website demonstrating how to use it. If you’ve ever had to use yeast infection medicine, it’s honestly quite similar to inserting that. Although birth control gel is more fun that yeast infection medicine, but I digress. Phexxi comes in a prepackaged dose in a little applicator. You insert the applicator into your vagina, push the end of the applicator until the gel all comes out, pull out the applicator, and voila. You’re good to go for one hour. It’s also very similar to inserting a tampon, only gel comes out rather than cotton. 

Possible side effects include yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis, uncomfortability at the insertion sight, burning or stinging, and in extreme cases UTI or kidney infection.

Phexxi could be a great option for someone who has a monogamous partner and doesn’t want to use hormonal birth control. I say someone who is monogamous, because remember, Phexxi doesn’t protect against STDs. Although Phexxi seems like a great non-hormonal option to add to the mix of birth controls, I do have some questions that aren’t answered on their website.

How is Phexxi any different than spermicide? Is it in fact a spermicide that’s been rebranded to be trendy and appealing? Spermicide basically works the exact same way Phexxi does, only you can buy it over the counter. Spermicide isn’t typically effective enough on its own to use as your only birth control option, so is Phexxi more effective? Which brings me to my next question…

There’s also no information on how effective Phexxi is. All birth control methods are tested for a perfect use failure rate (someone using the birth control perfectly, every time) and a typical use failure rate (a more typical use of the birth control) For example, the hormonal birth control pill perfect use failure rate, someone taking the pill at the exact same time every day, is 98%. The typical use rate is about 92%. There is no info on failure rates for Phexxi on their site. Additionally, I wonder what happens to the sperm once it’s in the vagina? It is immobile because of Phexxi doing it’s thing, but Phexxi only lasts for one hour and sperm can live in the vagina for up to five days. Phexxi was effective in clinical trials and is approved by the FDA, so it seems to be effective, but I need more information.

Besides saying not to use Phexxi with a vaginal ring, there is no information on if it is safe to use with other birth controls, such as condoms. Since Phexxi is non-hormonal, it would be safe to use with hormonal forms of birth control as a second method. I would assume it is safe to use with condoms because spermicides are safe to use with condoms, but there is no info on the website that supports this. 

If you’re interested in a hormone free, use when needed, type of birth control, Phexxi could be a great option for you. It is prescription only, which I actually thing is good so you have the opportunity to ask your doctor questions about the effectiveness and using it with condoms to prevent STDs. If you think Phexxi is a good fit for you and your birth control, schedule a consultation with your doctor. There is a lot of important information to consider that is currently not on the Phexxi website. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and get all the info before choosing a birth control method that’s right for you, whether that be Phexxi or something else. 

For more info and helpful videos, visit their website. But don’t forget my lingering questions. No birth control is perfect, so get all the info to make your choice.