Phexxi is a non-hormonal birth control gel that’s inserted into the vagina before sex. Ok…so it doesn’t sound very sexy. But it can be a great option for birth control. Why you ask? Read on to find out why.
How does it work?
Phexxi is a vaginal gel that is inserted with a one time use applicator similar to a tampon. It changes the pH of the vagina which prevents sperm motility. And if sperm can’t get to the egg then pregnancy can’t occur.
So it’s like a spermicide?
Not exactly. It’s similar to a spermicide in that you insert it before sex but spermicide works by killing sperm. This works by making sperm immobile.
How soon before sex do you have to use it?
Within 1 hour. Meaning an hour before you have sex, 30 min before sex, 15 min before sex, or immediately before sex. It does not work if you insert it after you’ve already had sex.
How effective is it?
With “perfect” use, it’s 93% effective. With “typical” use, allowing for some user error, it’s 86% effective. This means 14 people out of 100 will get pregnant when using this method of birth control (about the same as with condoms)
Why would you want to use this over other forms of birth control?
- It’s non-hormonal so if you’re someone who doesn’t do well with hormones or is looking for a hormone free method, Phexxi is great.
- You only use it when you’re having sex but unlike condoms, you have control over it. You don’t have to worry about feeling awkward asking or trying to convince your partner to use a condom.
- For some people it helps with vaginal dryness. This can be particularly helpful in women who have recently given birth. They don’t want hormones that could impact their milk supply and they often struggle with vaginal dryness from lack of estrogen in the postpartum period.
So what is the downside?
2 things. 1. There are much more effective methods of birth control available. So if you’re choosing a method based on how well it prevents pregnancy, it’s important to know this isn’t the most effective. And 2. In some women, particularly those with chronic UTIs or vaginal infections, Phexxi can make these problems worse. No fun.
Ready to give it a try? Talk to your doctor for a prescription!
Dr. Quimby is the co-founder of FemEd – a female health education platform that educates females of all ages about their bodies.
She is also a former professor at USC Keck school of Medicine where she led the OBGYN clerkship. She is passionate about education and empowering her patients and her students through knowledge and shared decision making.
She is currently a full time OBGYN at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles.
Dr. Quimby has received accolades for teaching and leadership. She has been named Top Doctor by both Pasadena and Los Angeles Magazines. She is a regular speaker throughout the community giving talks to both the public and other physicians. She has contributed to LAist, SELF, and several other news media sources.
Her special interests include: preconception counseling and improving sexual health
When she’s not educating the public on all things female health she can be found traveling with her 2 young daughters and ever supportive husband.