Annie Murphy chooses to keep her private life pretty private. It’s understandable, as an actress responsible for bringing us the beloved character from Emmy Award-winning comedy Schitt’s Creek Alexis Rose (meme-friendly catch phrases, confusing and concerning name-dropping anecdotes and all!), she’s got a whole lot of eyes on her and she’s more than entitled to keep some things to and for herself. But that’s also why it’s telling that she chose to start opening up about one of the most personal of personal matters — her birth control journey — and she wants you to talk about it, too.
Murphy caught up with SheKnows a few weeks back as part of the launch of her partnership with Phexxi to talk all things birth control, why she thinks it’s so important to use her platform to reach more people trying to make the right choices for their bodies and (of course) to dish a little bit on Schitt’s Creek and the real odds of us getting a movie (look: we may be a health vertical, but we know what the people want).
“When I was approached by Phexxi I was super skeptical because i was just anticipating logging onto this Zoom and seeing an old white man there prepared to talk to me about my body,” Murphy said about the early days of this collaboration. “So i went on being like ‘okay, CEO, let’s see what happens’ — and I logged on and it was just a sea of women looking back at me.”
She says she met with the Evofem Biosciences (the maker of Phexxi) CEO Saundra Pelletier — who was decidedly not an old white dude — and was instantly stoked to hear her passion and excitement about the product and the opportunities to give women more choices about their bodies and reproductive health.
Murphy herself says she’s had a long history of trying to find the right birth control for her. It’s a familiar and often frustrating story of trial and error: starting one brand or method when you’re younger and realizing the ways it does or doesn’t vibe with your lifestyle and your body: “I started using birth control when I was 16, hormonal birth control, and…it just didn’t work with my body. So I stopped the pill, moved onto the ring, which seemed okay at the time because it was just localized hormones, instead of it flowing through your bloodstream, and then realized it’s still localized hormones in a very, very sensitive and important area of your body.”
“We need another option and this other option that we now have — this non-hormonal birth control — needs to be talked about.”
As SheKnows previously reported, the non-hormonal birth control option that comes in the form of a prescription vaginal gel that you use when you’re going to have penetrative sex that could lead to a pregnancy. Instead of a pill or a ring or an implant, people use an applicator similar to a tampon immediately (or within the hour) of having intercourse and Phexxi works to keep the pH of the vagina in a range that is less hospitable to sperm. Working with the fact that sperm typically changes the vagina’s pH to be better for them to swim, Phexxi maintains the normal acidic environment of your vagina (3.5 to 4.5 for the chemistry buffs) to keep sperm far away from any eggs.
“There have been a limited number of advances in birth control over the last two decades; Phexxi represents an important step forward in women’s health,” said Michael A. Thomas, M.D., Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in a statement when Phexxi was first approved by the FDA. “Many of my patients have cycled through numerous contraceptive options and still have not found the right fit for their sexual and reproductive needs. Phexxi offers women freedom from hormones and control over how they choose to prevent pregnancy. I look forward to offering this new on-demand option to my patients.”
And it’s her own journey of trying to find her holy grail BC that made Murphy realize just how crucial it is that women and people with uteruses have the opportunity to open up about their experiences and share what’s going on down there — to lead to broader understanding of our health and make sure no one feels unsure, alone or alienated during the process.
“We need another option and this other option that we now have — this non-hormonal birth control — needs to be talked about. I think the more we talk about stigmatized things the more normalized they become and women’s health and reproductive systems and sexual health are some of those things that I think need to be talked about far more often and people need to feel more comfortable talking about [them] and not [feel] alone in that conversation.”