In the days following the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, reactions have ranged from anger to fear to defiance. Many have also begun to stock up on both abortion pills and the morning-after pill in preparation. (Yes, they're different things: The prescription abortion pill—which as of now is still legally accessible nationwide—safely ends a pregnancy up to 11 weeks; the morning-after pill, on the other hand, prevents pregnancy before it starts.) Stix, an online marketplace for vaginal and reproductive health products, is making the latter more accessible.
Founded by Jamie Norwood and Cynthia Plotch in 2019, Stix was created with the intention of streamlining the overly complicated world of sexual health. The company offers pregnancy and ovulation tests, UTI kits, yeast infection treatments, and more—all of which are fulfilled within 24 hours and shipped in discreet packaging. They also work with a team of medical advisers to ensure their information and products are as helpful as possible.
Last week, Stix introduced Restart, an over-the-counter morning-after pill (talk about timing). They also launched the Restart Donation Bank, which allows them to provide free doses to those in need—no questions asked. “We launched the donation bank about a week or so after the leak about the Roe v. Wade decision came out,” Norwood says. “We’ve been working on this for almost a year now in anticipation of this moment.”
You can get Restart at home in all 50 states, even those with trigger laws. Below, Plotch and Norwood tell BAZAAR.com about why they founded their company, how they prepared for the fall of Roe, and how to combat common misconceptions around the morning-after pill.
What is Stix doing in reaction to the Supreme Court decision on Friday? I know we're all still processing.
Jamie Norwood: We launched our Restart Donation Bank, which is basically a platform that lets anyone donate a dose of Restart, our emergency contraception. And then, on the flip side, anyone who needs a free dose who can't otherwise access it can get it for free, delivered directly to them in discreet packaging, no questions asked.
We launched the Restart Donation Bank in anticipation of this news. Unfortunately, it's not a surprise what happened, but it definitely feels shocking now that it's reality. But this whole campaign was to kind of prepare for the impact.
Since the news broke on Friday, we've seen support for the Restart Donation Bank and people needing emergency contraception increase drastically. We're shifting all of our efforts as a team to be able to have enough inventory on hand, have enough support to get the messaging across, to answer people's questions and provide education.
I want to talk much more about Restart. But first, can you share a little about how Stix came to be and your goal in building the company?
Cynthia Plotch: Our mission at Stix is to empower competent health decisions. And that comes through in everything that we do. Right now, we're really focused on products for vaginal and reproductive health, and education around sex and health. Stix started after Jamie and I worked together at another company for many years, and then had a series of terrible experiences buying the products that we needed.
I once was buying a pregnancy test and ran into my boyfriend's mom. Jamie had this crazy UTI experience. And we just started to realize, okay, maybe something is truly and really broken here. So we started talking to thousands of women and found out how this system is neither one for health nor care. Ultimately, that's what got us started on our Stix journey.
Let's go back to Restart. Do you expect the donation bank to last for a while?
CP: It will last us a good amount of time. We've had incredible demand and support on both sides. I think we've now raised well over $150,000—we're at 170-something. And we've donated thousands of units on the other side too. Our hope is that we're able to provide free Restart forever. We're seeing such amazing levels of support for the donation, and we're really hopeful that it continues.
A common question with the morning-after pill is about the weight limit, as it's recommended for those who weigh 165 pounds or less. Obviously, that's not the reality for many people. What does Stix recommend for those who don't fall into that weight category?
JN: So right now, this dosage of [levonorgestrel], what Restart or Plan B is made of, is the only FDA-approved over-the-counter dose. That is obviously very prohibitive. And there's really inconclusive research. The FDA states that there's no weight limit, anyone can take it. However, there have been studies that say that it's less effective for people over 165 pounds. So our recommendation at Stix is to talk with your doctor. There's [also] a prescription morning-after pill, Ella. However, there's also research that says that's less effective for people over 195 pounds. So our answer is, again, speak with your doctor. And we're urging the FDA, and want-to-be advocates [to get] approved dosages that work for our bodies.
To clarify: It's not harmful to take the morning-after pill if you're above 165 pounds.
JN: No. And the most important factor is that you take it as soon as possible. The FDA states that no matter your weight, you should take it. It's not harmful. It's safe, however, safety and efficacy are obviously different things. There's less research about women's health and women's bodies. And the research that's done is inconclusive.
You bring up the timing, and how the sooner you take the morning-after pill, the better. Because Restart comes in the mail, is your recommendation to order it in advance and have it on hand when you might need it?
CP: Absolutely. We even offer free overnight shipping if you buy two of them, just to incentivize that sort of behavior. But we aren't always that lucky to have it. So we offer overnight shipping on Restart. We subsidize the cost, it's really affordable. In select areas, we're able to offer same-day shipping too. We're working as hard as we can to get it to you as quickly as possible, but we definitely recommend keeping it on hand. It has almost a two-year shelf life.
What else do you want our readers to know about everything that’s going on right now in the world of reproductive health?
CP: There's so much confusion around emergency contraception. Right now, I think there's two things I really want everyone to know. One is, no matter what state you live in, you can buy Restart, full stop. Doesn't matter what access to abortion looks like in your state right now. This is an option for you.
And the other thing that I've just literally been shouting from the rooftops for the past couple of days—literally on TikTok and figuratively in other ways—is that Restart prevents pregnancy before it happens. So many people think that the morning-after pill is an abortion. So many people think it affects your fertility. So many people think it makes you sick. That is not true. There are not lasting health effects. It just prevents sperm from meeting egg. It's basically like using a condom or taking the pill. I just think it's so critical that we all know this information.
JN: Another thing we're trying to bring awareness and education to people about is crisis pregnancy centers. In a lot of states, especially states that have trigger laws, there are crisis pregnancy centers which basically masquerade as abortion clinics, and they're not. As part of this Restart launch campaign, we took out billboards in red states next to crisis pregnancy centers that kind of draw some attention to the absurdities of laws in those states.
CP: Crisis pregnancy centers are basically fake abortion clinics. They can be run by religious groups or political groups. And often, they'll try to scare you out of getting an abortion, trick you out of getting one. I live in Philadelphia, and here we have a crisis pregnancy center that literally is right next door to Planned Parenthood. They're incredibly predatory, they're incredibly dangerous. And to Jamie's point, as we think about so much of our mission being [helping people make] empowering, competent health decisions, crisis pregnancy centers do the literal exact opposite of that.