Phexxi is a new non-hormonal birth control method. Phexxi is a prescription vaginal gel that prevents pregnancy.
How does Phexxi work?
Phexxi isn’t a spermicide, but you use it in a similar way: you put Phexxi in your vagina before sex, and it helps stop sperm from getting to an egg.
Phexxi prevents pregnancy by lowering the pH in your vagina when sperm is there. This makes it hard for sperm to move, which lowers the chance that sperm and egg can meet.
How effective is Phexxi?
If you use it perfectly, Phexxi is 93% effective. But people aren’t perfect and it can be easy to make a mistake — so in reality, Phexxi is about 86% effective. This means that around 14 out of 100 people who use Phexxi get pregnant.
It's really important to use Phexxi according to the instructions every single time you have penis-in-vagina sex, or it won't work as well.
Phexxi works even better when you combine it with another method of birth control — like condoms, internal condoms, withdrawal (aka pulling out), or a diaphragm. You can also use Phexxi with hormonal methods of birth control, like the pill or patch. But don’t use Phexxi with the vaginal ring (aka NuvaRing).
If you want birth control that gives you the best pregnancy protection and the most convenience, check out IUDs and the implant. They’re the most effective kinds of birth control and you don’t have to do anything for them to work once they're in your body.
How do I use Phexxi?
Phexxi comes in pre-filled applicators. You need to use one full applicator each time you have penis-in-vagina sex. Using Phexxi is similar to putting in a tampon. Follow the directions on the package or Phexxi website to make sure you put Phexxi in your vagina the right way.
You put Phexxi in your vagina up to an hour before you have sex. It’s made to stay in place in your vagina during sex.
Phexxi starts working right after you put it in your vagina, and it’s effective for up to one hour. But you have to use a new applicator of Phexxi every single time you have sex. So if you have sex more than one time within one hour, put another applicator of Phexxi in your vagina.
If you don’t have sex within one hour of using Phexxi — but you’re still going to have sex — put in another applicator of Phexxi before you have sex.
You must use Phexxi BEFORE you have sex — it won’t work if you put it in after sex.
You can also use Phexxi with a diaphragm (use the spermicide that comes with your diaphragm according to the instructions, put your diaphragm in your vagina, and then put Phexxi in your vagina after you put in your diaphragm). And it’s safe to use Phexxi with some types of hormonal birth control, like the pill, patch, or shot. But don’t use Phexxi if you use the vaginal ring (aka NuvaRing).
Keep your unopened Phexxi applicators in the original foil package, at room temperature in a dry place.
Don’t use Phexxi if you’re pregnant or think you might be pregnant. Talk with your nurse or doctor if you’re breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed — scientists don’t know yet if Phexxi passes into breast milk.
You can use Phexxi after an abortion, miscarriage, or childbirth, as soon as your nurse or doctor tells you it’s safe to have penis-in-vagina sex. You can use Phexxi anytime during your menstrual cycle.
It’s safe to use Phexxi with other medicines that treat vaginal infections, like miconazole, metronidazole, and tioconazole.
Tell your nurse or doctor about all the medicines you take — including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements — before using Phexxi.
How do I get Phexxi?
You need a prescription to get Phexxi. You can get a prescription from a doctor or nurse at a doctor’s office, health clinic, or your local Planned Parenthood health center. In a few states, you can even get a prescription directly from a pharmacist. You may also be able to get a prescription through the Phexxi website.
You may be able to get Phexxi for low-cost or free if you have health insurance. To find out more about using health insurance to pay for Phexxi, talk with your nurse or doctor, or call your insurance provider (the phone number should be on the back of your health insurance card). Phexxi also has a cost saving program that may be able to help you save money if you have private insurance (insurance that’s not through Medicaid or another government program).
If you don’t have health insurance, you still have options. Your local Planned Parenthood health center may be able to help you get Phexxi for free or low-cost. You can also check out the Phexxi website for more information about the cost of Phexxi.
What are the benefits of Phexxi?
Like spermicide, Phexxi is non-hormonal birth control. So if you prefer non-hormonal birth control, or can’t use methods with hormones because of medical problems, Phexxi may be a good option for you.
Unlike spermicide, Phexxi doesn’t have nonoxynol-9 in it. So Phexxi doesn’t increase your risk of STDs like spermicide can.
Phexxi is birth control you can use up to an hour before you have sex, so you don’t have to stop and think about birth control in the middle of the action. You can also make Phexxi a part of foreplay by having your partner put it in your vagina.
You only need to use Phexxi when you have sex. So you don’t need to worry about using birth control or dealing with side effects when you’re not having sex.
What are the disadvantages of Phexxi?
In order for Phexxi to work as well as possible, you have to use it correctly every time you have penis-in-vagina sex — which is hard for many people to do.
If you don’t think you can use Phexxi every single time you have sex, there are plenty of other types of birth control out there that are easier to use and offer better protection against pregnancy (like IUDs and implants). Take this quiz to find a method that’s right for you.
Some people may get side effects when they use Phexxi. The most common Phexxi side effects are:
Don’t use Phexxi if you’ve had a lot of UTIs, or have other urinary tract problems.
Phexxi may also irritate your partner’s penis. If you or your partner have soreness or irritation in your genitals after sex, you may be sensitive to Phexxi.
If you or your partner have signs of an allergic reaction — like flushing, irritation, shortness of breath, low blood pressure, or loss of consciousness — stop using Phexxi and call your doctor right away.
Phexxi doesn’t protect against STDs. But using condoms with Phexxi helps protect you from STDs, and gives you extra protection from pregnancy, too. If you’re going to have sex, using condoms every time and getting tested regularly for STDs is the best way to help keep yourself healthy.