A new birth-control product, Phexxi, was the subject of a long story in the New York Times Styles section on June 10. “The pill helped start the sexual revolution,” reads the headline. “What will Phexxi do?”
What is Phexxi? According to the product website, Phexxi is a nonhormonal vaginal gel that “works to prevent pregnancy by altering the pH of your vagina, which is different from hormonal birth control.” Its primary ingredients are lactic acid, citric acid, and potassium bitartrate (the last ingredient is better known, at least to cooks, as “cream of tartar”). In May 2020, Phexxi filed for trademark protection and received FDA approval; the product went on sale in the US in September 2020. An ad campaign—notably a 60-second video that urges women to “get past your compromises and get Phexxi”—launched in early February 2021.
Screen grab from the 60-second ad
Does Phexxi work? Its parent company, Evofem Biosciences (“Science with a Soul”), says that in clinical trials “with perfect use,” the gel is 93 percent effective in preventing pregnancy. As for the Phexxi name—well, let’s talk about it.