Navigating the sea of available birth control options can be overwhelming. There are so many factors that come into play when choosing a method that’s right for you. For those who prefer options that don't interfere with their hormones (the signaling messengers that interact with your body in a variety of ways), the choices – including options like condoms, rhythm tracking and the copper IUD – are often limited. The good news is there’s a modern, hormone-free prescription contraceptive gel for use only when you need it: Phexxi® (lactic acid, citric acid and potassium bitartrate) Vaginal Gel 1.8%, 1%, 0.4%. Phexxi works by maintaining the vaginal pH at a level that is inhospitable to sperm to help prevent pregnancy. Phexxi must be administered immediately before or up to an hour before each act of sex and is not effective when used after sex. For women who can’t tolerate hormones or who may be exploring novel options, Phexxi may be a great fit.
To help you learn about Phexxi — the first and only non-hormonal, FDA-approved vaginal gel used to prevent pregnancy — we talked to Dr. Charis Chambers*, a board-certified OB/GYN. Below, she shares six benefits of switching to a non-hormonal birth control.
1. There Are No Hormones
For the past several decades, most birth control methods have contained hormones. Typically, a combination of estrogen and progesterone is present in hormonal birth control options such as the pill
"While hormonal birth control is right for some, there are millions of people who can’t use hormonal birth control because of pre-existing conditions like cancer, lupus, migraines – or simply prefer not to use hormones," Chambers says.
It's also important to note that some forms of hormonal birth control can take months for the hormones to leave your system. With Phexxi, there is nothing to remove or "flush" out. If you stop using Phexxi, it won’t impact your ability to get pregnant.
2. Use It Only When You Need It - No Schedule Required
For many, one of the biggest struggles when it comes to the pill is remembering to take it at the same time every day. No matter how structured your schedule is, it’s still easy to forget. For others, having a device implanted may feel like too much of a long-term commitment. If you are looking for hormone-free birth control methods, there's the traditional condom for some couples, but with that comes relying on your partner. And ovulation tracking can require daily temperature checks to track your fertility — add to that the possibility of an irregular cycle, and it's just another schedule variable to keep tabs on.
Chambers recommends Phexxi as a 100% hormone-free birth control option that’s easy to use, whenever you need it. "When I think about birth control and how well it’s going to work for an individual, I kind of weigh the number of ways in which a person can mess it up," she says. "What I like about Phexxi is you’re not taking temperatures, or taking a pill every day, or worrying about tracking periods. You literally need to administer the gel up to an hour before each act of sex."
3. It Can Work With Other Natural Methods
Let's say you do prefer natural contraception methods and feel comfortable with rhythm tracking or withdrawal. Phexxi, as a hormone-free option (again, it functions by maintaining vaginal pH so that it's inhospitable to sperm rather than tinkering with hormone levels), can work in combination with these methods. Think of it as an added layer of protection to give you peace of mind. With one less thing to worry about, you can stay focused on being in the moment.
4. It's Small Enough To Carry On The Go
One of the novel things about Phexxi is that it comes in a pre-filled applicator that’s self-administered. It can be inserted immediately before or up to an hour prior to each act of sex, and the applicator is small and discreet enough to carry with you. "For some women, especially if they aren’t having sex every day or have sex that’s more in the moment, Phexxi allows them to fully control the situation," says Chambers. Plus, if your plans change after you’ve self-administered, don’t sweat it!
5. It’s Effective
When taken as directed, Phexxi is 93% effective. With typical use, which accounts for potential mistakes in administration such as forgetting to use Phexxi one hour before sex, Phexxi was 86% effective at preventing pregnancy in the clinical trial. What’s cool about Phexxi is that it’s FDA-approved, which, according to Chambers, is "the ultimate gold standard for evaluating safety and efficacy" of a medication. Women who have had three or more UTIs in a year or other urinary tract problems should not use Phexxi.
"[FDA-approved] means it’s been rigorously tested with clinical trials, follow-ups, continued maintenance, and check ins," says Chambers. "It’s been fully evaluated, and is a safe and effective birth control method."
6. It Provides Women With More Options
Birth control is a personal decision: Some will thrive with hormonal birth control, while others will feel more comfortable with hormone-free options. But what excites Chambers about Phexxi specifically is that it's another birth control option available to women. "My goal is for women to understand what their birth control options are," she says. "You can’t remove sexual health and fertility from a woman's life, but you can inform them and provide them with the tools they need to be in control and pursue what works best for them."
Interested in learning more about Phexxi and its home-delivery option? Schedule an online consultation with a Phexxi telehealth expert at www.Phexxi.com or talk to your healthcare provider.
* Dr. Charis Chambers is a paid spokesperson of Phexxi®.
Important Safety Information
If you have had a history of repeated urinary tract infections or other urinary tract problems, avoid Phexxi®.
The most common side effects were vaginal burning and itching, yeast infection, urinary tract infection, vaginal area discomfort, bacterial vaginosis, vaginal discharge, genital discomfort (including in male partners), and pain while urinating.
Phexxi® does not protect against any sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
Contact your healthcare provider if you are experiencing severe genital irritation or discomfort or urinary tract symptoms.
For more information about Phexxi®, talk to your healthcare provider and see full Product Information.
Phexxi is a registered trademark of Evofem Biosciences, Inc.
© 2021 Evofem Biosciences, Inc.
This article is sponsored by Phexxi®. Please visit Phexxi.com for the full prescribing information. Please report side effects by contacting Evofem Biosciences® toll-free at 1-833-EVFMBIO or contact FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or www.fda.gov/medwatch.