What Is the New Birth Control Gel? Is It Effective?

Published: March 18, 2021
Dear TeenHealthFX,
I saw an ad for this new type birth control it kind of looked like a tampon. I think it said it gets used right before sex and doesn't require a prescription. What is it? Is it effective
Signed: What Is the New Birth Control Gel? Is It Effective?

Dear What Is the New Birth Control Gel? Is It Effective? ,

The new birth control method that you are referring to is called Phexxi and it does require a prescription from a doctor or nurse practitioner. Planned parenthood explains that Phexxi is a new non hormonal method of birth control that can be used right before sexual intercourse. Its job is to stop sperm from meeting the egg and preventing pregnancy.

Important things to consider when it comes to Phexxi is:

93% effective when used perfectly. People are not perfect and make mistakes causing it to be 86% effective in preventing pregnancy. This means around 14 out of a 100 people who use Phexxi will still get pregnant.

Phexxi does NOT prevent sexually transmitted infections.

Phexxi works best when used with another form of birth control such as the birth control pill or condoms. CDC notes it cannot be used with the vaginal ring birth control since Phexxi is inserted into the vagina.

How do I use it?

You fill the Phexxi applicator one hour before penis to vagina sex and inset it into the vagina. It stays in place during that time. It must be inserted before having sex and stay there in order to be effective. It will not work if you use it after.

You can use Phexxi with condoms. In fact, it is encouraged as Phexxi does not prevent STDs.


Non-hormonal and does not need to be taken every day.

No need to worry about side effects of other birth control methods when not having sex.


A new applicator must be inserted every time you have penis to vagina intercourse.

It can cause vaginal discharge.

It can be uncomfortable.

Phexxi does not prevent STDs.

If this a birth control method that you are considering, the best thing to do would be to talk to your doctor or nurse practitioner about it. They will be able to go over the pros and cons and see if it is a good fit for you. If you need help finding a doctor and live in northern New Jersey, you can call the  Adolescent/Young Adult Center for Health at 973-971-5199  for an appointment with an adolescent medicine specialist.  

Signed: TeenHealthFX