Is Birth-Control Gel Phexxi An Effective Contraceptive?

There are many different types of birth control for women who want to prevent pregnancy. Phexxi is another option that provides women flexibility. The gel is a hormone-free, FDA-approved form of birth control that can be used before having sex, according to the manufacturer of Phexxi. It may be appropriate for women who don't want to deal with IUD insertion or the daily consumption of oral birth control pills and want flexibility in how they have sex and prevent pregnancy.

Phexxi works by lowering the pH balance of your vagina to prevent sperm from surviving, per Pop Sugar. The natural pH of a woman's vagina is between 3.8 and 5.0, normally too acidic for sperm to live, according to a 2021 study published in the journal Diagnostics. When sperm is present, the body naturally increases the vagina's pH so sperm can make their way to fertilize the egg. However, you may wonder if Phexxi is an effective contraceptive, possibly replacing your current form of birth control.

Phexxi is as effective as condoms at preventing pregnancy

When discussing the effectiveness of birth control, it's important to know the difference between "perfect use" and "typical use." As the name suggests, perfect use of a birth control method means it is used perfectly 100% of the time with no mistakes, according to Everyday Health. Obviously, this is not always possible. While Phexxi is 93% effective at preventing pregnancy with perfect use, that effectiveness drops to 86% when typically used, per Planned Parenthood.

This is the same effectiveness as the typical use rate of condoms which is around 87%, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For comparison, birth control pills are 93% effective and IUDs are over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. The benefit of Phexxi is its flexibility. It can be applied right before sex and doesn't need to be taken daily which may appeal to certain women. However, its low effectiveness means it's best used in combination with other birth control options, like condoms.