How Annie Murphy Became a Driving Force Behind On-Demand Birth Control

Annie Murphy and Dr. Shepherd


Whether it’s dreaming up a small town exit strategy on Schitt’s Creek or plotting a murder on Kevin Can F**k Himself, Annie Murphy’s TV characters always know their next move. But in one major aspect of her personal life, the actress was very much winging it for years. 

“I full-on stopped birth control and crossed my fingers,” Murphy told Verywell. 

She wasn’t trying to get pregnant. After a decade of relying on contraceptives like the pill and NuvaRing, she was fed up with the side effects of hormonal birth control.

“I felt out of sorts and I didn’t feel right in my body,” Murphy said. “It took years for me to put two and two together and realize it was the hormones I was putting in my body every single day, even when I wasn’t having sex.”

Because they are convenient, effective, and reversible, hormonal birth control options are quite popular. Most birth control pills, the birth control patch, and vaginal rings contain both estrogen and progestin, though progestin-only pills are available. 

Not everyone experiences side effects from these types of contraceptives. But spotting, nausea, and headaches are some of the most commonly-reported issues. Additionally, research links hormonal birth control to antidepressant use and first-time depression diagnoses, especially among adolescents. 

Enter Phexxi—the non-hormonal birth control gel Murphy sat down to talk to us about. Her partnership with the brand began in 2021, shortly after it received FDA approval in May of 2020.

“Phexxi is the first and only non-hormonal birth control product that you use on demand, meaning you use it only when you have sex—never when you don’t,” Saundra Pelletier, CEO of Phexxi manufactuer Evofem Biosciences, told Verywell. 

Phexxi needs to be inserted vaginally before sex. It’s not a spermicide, which works by blocking and slowing sperm’s entrance to the cervix. Instead, Phexxi works by changing the pH of the vagina during sex to prevent pregnancy.

According to Pelletier, 23 million women in the U.S. say they are “beyond hormones,” indicating they’ve exhausted their hormonal birth control options.

Pelletier wants these women to know that relying on a partner to have a condom is not their only option.

“Men have had condoms for 150 years. A man can go out with a condom in his pocket and protect from getting somebody pregnant or protect [against] a sexually transmitted infection,” Pelletier said. “I really believe that women should have sex on demand—on their own terms, whenever they want to. When women feel empowered, everything in their life is better.”

Watch the full interview below. 

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Combined hormonal birth control: pill, patch, and ring.

  2. Planned Parenthood. What are the disadvantages of the pill?

  3. Skovlund CW, Mørch LS, Kessing LV, Lidegaard Ø. Association of hormonal contraception with depression. JAMA Psychiatry. 2016;73(11):1154–1162. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.2387

  4. Food and Drug Administration. Phexxi prescribing information. 2020.

By Anisa Arsenault
Anisa joined the company in 2018 after managing news surrounding fertility, pregnancy, and parenting for The Bump. Her health and wellness articles have appeared in outlets like Prevention and Metro US. At Verywell, she is responsible for the news program, which includes coverage of COVID-19.