Annie Murphy Wants to Talk to You About Your Birth Control Options

The actress is the new face of a use-when-you-need-it birth control gel.

Annie Murphy Interview
Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/Getty

During my recent Zoom call with Emmy-winning actress Annie Murphy, aka Alexis Rose from Schitt's Creek, I learned she, too, watches Bravo to unwind after a stressful day of work. (Her workday just happens to be filming the second season of the popular Netflix series Russian Doll.) And she also got really into Peloton during quarantine and kind of hates herself for it.

"After making fun of a few of my friends for their Peloton obsession, I tried one of my friends' bikes and was like, oh shit, now I'm a Peloton person. It really cleans my brain up and makes me feel so much better. I've really been missing it, which feels gross and weird! I never miss exercising," she jokes. Now that she's away from her Toronto home while working in New York, she's been "searching a lot of five-minute abs, five-minute legs — just squeezing in workouts on YouTube, and walking a lot," she says.

Murphy is also refreshing in her approach to self-care. Unlike other celebrities whose rituals include expensive crystals or treatments, Murphy's "secret" for dealing with stress is ... actually taking care of herself: "You know, therapy, antidepressants, talking to buds, and just turning the brain off as much as possible with Below Deck Mediterranean. That's really what I have been doing," she says. (As for meditation, she'd like to give it a try at some point, but "I feel like my brain is too busy for it right now," she says.)

Openly talking about how antidepressants have helped her has been a conscious decision for Murphy, who says she wants to help remove the stigma that still exists around medication.

"You take pills for everything else in your body and we're living in very, very overwhelming times and there's so much to process on a regular basis," she says. "So if you're feeling anxious and you're feeling sad, that's normal because you're a feeling, breathing, human being. To say, like, I need to try to balance those feelings out in order to go on with my day — great! So do I," she says, adding that she knows she's not alone, and wants to spread that feeling around. "Just realizing how many of my friends and family are on antidepressants or anti-anxiety meds, it's like of course. I feel like the more I can talk about it, and hopefully make people feel less alone in it, the more quickly we can get to a place of normalizing it."

Then there are her thoughts on those other pills we can all have a love-hate relationship with. Like many of us, Murphy says she started taking birth control pills at 16 and never thought twice about it — until years later when she started questioning how pumping hormones into her body might actually be affecting her mood, and if there was another option.

"I wasn't educated about it but just did it because that's what you do. I did not react well to the hormones, my emotions were super up and down all of the time and I was just not feeling myself," Murphy explains. "I also had anxiety in the back of my head, like, I know this is like helping me in the moment, but [is] this hindering me long, long term? Having that [stress] be alleviated was also a benefit."

She switched to the ring, but still felt the pull to go off of hormonal birth control altogether, so she stopped that, too, and went with the "cross your fingers method — which is also not ideal," she says with a laugh. (No, really, that method does not work.)

After being off of birth control for years, she was introduced to Phexxi: a hormone-free, FDA-approved prescription vaginal gel that she's now the face of. Check out the commercial above where she speaks on behalf of her vagina and their rules of engagement (like, obviously, "no hormones.")

"What I love about [Phexxi] is that you only need to use it when you have sex. So if you don't have sex for two weeks, you don't use this for two weeks. So I really love the freedom that gives," Murphy says. It's important to note that, like birth control pills, the ring, shot, or patch, a vaginal gel can prevent pregnancy — but it does not protect against sexually transmitted infections. Good ol' condoms are still your best bet for that.

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