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wispering podcast episode 8, with symone elena
Wispers

Advice for the Sexually Active

By Symone Elena

🗣️ wis·per·ing /ˈ(h)wispər-ing: verb

Why no "h"? We're changing the conversation around sex, our bodies and reproductive health.


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Welcome to The Wispering Podcast where our goal is to change the volume on some of life's most difficult conversations. This podcast is brought to you by wisp, an online telehealth community for women and men looking for reliable and discreet online care for their sexual and reproductive health needs. Log on to hellowisp.com and get same day, prescriptions for UTI, yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, oral herpes (AKA, cold sores) and many more. Medication can be picked up at a local pharmacy or you can have meds shipped in discreet packaging directly to your home. Online consultations only take a few minutes and all medication is prescribed by US licensed doctors for all fifty states.
Hi my babes, and welcome back to The Wispering Podcast. Today I kind of just wanna, like I just want to recap, because we're starting to get closer to the end of the season, so I kind of just want to recap a lot of things that I feel like, you know, are some big major takeaways that I want you to take note of. So this is something that you're listening to right now and you're like in a super steady place, take some notes, like write them down. If you're driving and listening to this, I would definitely bookmark this specific episode, just so you know, I kind of just recap a lot of things that we've spoken about previously, and it's going to be super informative. So again, I just want to just do that quick reminder of, if you're sexually active meaning, if you havin' sex, y'all— vaginal, anal, oral— getting tested is one of the most important things you can do to protect your health and the health of everybody that you're doing it with, the one person you doing it- whatever the case may be. We want to protect each other. So again, make sure you're having an open and honest conversation about your sexual history and STI testings with your doctors and ask whether you should be tested.
So, honest conversations. The doctors are the one person that you definitely need to like, be very explicit with it and give them as much information as possible. When it comes to having these honest conversations with partners, use your discretion with how much you want to disclose, as long as you're allowing them to be included and well enough aware about everything, use your discretion. Again, if you're not comfortable talking with your regular healthcare provider about STIs, meaning, you don't feel as close or comfortable with your doctor, like how I tell you all about my gyno, Dr. Manthea has been my girl since I was 16, so she gets to know all and everything. Again, there's many clinics that all provide confidential and free or low-cost testings. And that way, you can go to them one-and-done, never have to see them again, whereas with the doctor, you got to kind of see them regularly. Another thing—you can get tested for STIs at the doctor's office, hospital, and other sexual health clinics. You may- especially urgent care, as well. You may even qualify for free testing, depending on which state you live in, and your financial circumstances. So kind of just take all that in to note before you feel like you have to, you know, dive in with money, because how much you pay for testing depends on where you go and what test you need, your income, and whether or not you have health insurance, so all those different factors play into it.
For like people like me, who have health insurance, you know we still have to technically pay out-of-pocket to an extent, because if your deductible is really high, meaning like that limit you have to reach before your insurance starts to cover you, you know, you still have to pay out-of-pocket until you reach that deductible point. So, there's all these different factors that play into how much you have to pay, and if you'll have to pay. And because of the Affordable Care Act, like i.e., Obamacare, a lot of insurance plans, cover testing and screenings for STIs, which is a blessing. And you know you're likely to be able to access this STD testing for free, or at a significantly like, super-reduced rate if you do have health insurance like me. So- and if you don't have it, that's okay, like you can still get it whether you have a job or not like. There is a wonderful thing called the health place market place to my knowledge, you go on there and fill out the little questionnaire to let them know like, you know, your housing situation, your income and all that, and then they'll offer you suggestions on different plans that you can just pay for out-of- pocket without using your job. So, you know, if not, don't worry if you don't have health insurance. Testing can just be free or low-cost with Medicaid and other government programs. So just remember: use your resources. And you know, honestly, some clinics just give free or low-cost STD tests depending on your income too.
So a quick overview, of just you know some STD testing recommendations. Y'all know, big sis, CDC, who just pretty much runs everything at this point, also has guidelines on situations like STIs and STDs, and you know they, they don't only just focus on issues like viruses and stuff like that, they actually focus on sexual health as well. So, did you know that all adults and adolescents from age 13, [inaudible], 13 to 64 should be tested, at least once in their lifetime for HIV. And I know that age is just so young and crazy, but I was just talking to my engineer over here and we're just like you know, middle schools only really started becoming hyper aware of, you know, body parts and sexuality and sex, and all those things like too young to be worrying about any of this stuff. We should have been more worried about you know, flag day and- and all that stuff at the end of the school year, but yeah. You know, this is a young age and the CDC is acknowledging that this is kind of like that pivotal point where situations like HIV and other sexual health and reproductive health issues need to be tested. And even all sexually active women that are younger than 25 should be screened for gonorrhea and chlamydia every single year. Women that are, you know, 25 and older, with the risk factors such as you know, multiple sexual partners or a sex partner who has an STD, should also be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia every single year. Now I know your Pap smears they've been up to, I think, once every three years, whereas before we were going every year, that's not the same thing is getting tested. You want to get your Pap smear done for that overall, you know, reproductive health, but as for sexual health, 6 months to a year. Like, if you're feelin' fluffy, you can get an STD test and an STI test after every partner. It's on you, but pregnant women, like my mom was out here. They should be tested for syphilis, HIV, and hepatitis B in the early state as of pregnancy. At risk pregnant women should also be tested for chlamydia and gonnorrhea starting early in the pregnancy and testing should be repeated as needed just to protect not only the health of yourself, but the, you know, of your babies. Like, because y'all are literally one and what's affecting you, affects your baby. And a lot of babies are born with certain diseases because of, you know, things happening to the mom and sometimes negligence plays into that as well, so full circle health—you gotta get tested too if you are pregnant.
To my LGBTQ+ community, all sexually-active, gay and bisexual men should be tested at least once a year for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea, and those who have multiple or anonymous partners should be tested more frequently for STDs. So, for example, 3-6 months are, is like, a good interval for you guys. And sexually-active gay and bisexual men may benefit from more frequent HIV testing every 3-6 months. So you know, I know, there's new medication out there for that. I can't remember, I think it starts with a P, I can't think of it right now, it's literally on the tip of my tongue. But if you know, you know- and if you don't, it's none of ya business, but yeah, 3-6 months y'all, do what you gotta do. Like, I know these apps give us such amazing accessibility to, you know, sexual adventures with people, but be smart, my loves, be smart. And anyone who just has unsafe sex or shares injection drug equipment like needles should just get tested for HIV at least once a year, because that's the- the quickest way that it's been transferred, not even just through sex, like just through even sharing needles alone, can- can transfer that because it's you know it's a blood passing disease. So the above that I just listed from the CDC guidelines is just, you know, just the minimum standard in sexual health screening. And as an individual, as a human being, it's just a good idea to take into account your own sexual practices and just make a judgment on how often you should just get tested. Like, again for me, baby, if I feel a little tickle of somethings off, we in the doctor's office. There's been times where I've gotten tested, you know, twice within like a 3-6 month interval, just because I'm paranoid like that, but yeah, a good rule of thumb is just to get tested between partners—see, look—it's just to get tested between partners if you're having unprotected sex. Now, I wasn't, but still sex with a condom and other barriers, doesn't matter, get tested. If you're using a barrier method, you know—condoms, yeah, but you have multiple partners? Get screened for STIs every 3-6 months. Not playing with you. And even if you don't have symptoms, again, asymptomatic COVID should be a great indication to you of what living an a asymptomatic life is like. It'll just help keep you and your partners protected.
So, was kind of dive in again to the big question: where can I find affordable sexual health centers? I mean, Google is a great, great platform to help you search for that. You can literally type into your search bar, "Where can I find an affordable sexual health center?" and it will bring up all your different options. So, let's start with non-profit organizations. You know, a lot of non-profit orgs such as the LGBTQ+ centers, they run local health clinics that provide STI testing and I've seen a lot of them even on college campuses. So what STI tests are available, that is dependent on where you live, so from city to city it can change, but most of those places will test at the, like at the bare minimum they will test for gonorrhea, chlamydia, and HIV, just because those are your- like your big head honchos that you want to tackle, and because these clinics usually receive money from like various sources like federal grants, donations, fundraisers, you know, etc., testing is completely free because they got the coins already. So it's either completely free, or it it'll be available at a super low cost. Compared to like when I went to urgent care that one time I told y'all about, they try to hit your girl for $245. Who's not paying it? I, okay? So to find one- and this is me, sidebar, this is me with health insurance, but anyways, to find one near you, again, try googling "sexual health clinic near me." Or, you know just enter your city and then "STI testing clinics." You'd be surprised at what pops up. Mobile clinics. Again, I was just talking about that. Like, there's a lot of mobile clinics on college campuses and I've seen it in like, different shows. I think- was there one on "Dear White People"? I feel like there was, but you'll know what I'm talking about. Mobile clinics are just large vans that travel through rural areas and urban areas to offer, you know, high quality healthcare at a low cost. And they specify rural and urban areas because people who are just more in disadvantaged disadvantage places. They just don't have that same access to the rest of us who live in a really like localized city. So, STI testing and treatment is just one of the many, many services they typically offer and they typically give you free condoms as well, but currently there are approximately, what? Fifteen hundred mobile clinics traveling throughout the United States? Ao just to find one that's closest to you, search—dun dun— "mobile health map" and see what pops up. Just to dive in a little bit more with, you know, the college and university health centers, because half of all new STI diagnoses, unfortunately, occur in college-aged folks, which is usually around you know, 18-24, most colleges and universities, you know, they offer free or super low-cost STI testing to the students. So you just pick up the phone to your school's health center, or ask around if you trust people, and just you know, to learn what STIs they can hook you up with and look out, you know, look at for you on.
Now back to our lovely LGBTQ centers, those- those are, I would say, like most medium and large cities, they do have these. Like, for example, New York. There they have these centers and they either offer STI testing for people specifically in the LGBTQ+ community, or they have a directory of, you know, local LGBTQ+ friendly providers who offer STI testing, because a lot of time, people who don't agree with, you know, this specific way of life and just the human beings and themselves, they may not treat you the way you need to be treated. So, you want to find a place that will make you feel safe and protected, guys. So just to be able to find your local LGBTQ center, you can ask, you know, within your community, and you can just also check out the community center member directory on- I think the LGBTQ has literally, yeah a community center member directory, and you can look it up that way, or you know, when you go on there, you can just enter your location and then you'll be able to find the community that's nearest you and then you'll be able to just call them up and arrange, arrange a screening. Now, I will say living outside of a big city, you can find an LGBTQ-friendly testing center through one of the following means: so, you can Google "STI Clinic near me," LGBTQIA+, whatever, whatever letter you want to stop at, you can just fill it in from there, or you know a similar search term, and then you can also search the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association which is acronymed at G-L-M-A Provider Directory, and then, lastly, urgent care clinics. You ain't gotta see them folks never again if you go in there because they're not your regular doctor. So I will say attending an urgent care clinic is a great option for folks who just want to get tested like, yesterday. Like, you really want to get tested like, yesterday, 9 times out of 10 most urgent care clinics are not open on the weekends, but there are some that are and you can just get tested right away. STI testing may not be- you know, your local walking clinics may jam, but they're always, you know, available to help.
And I will also throw in this last tidbit—virtual. So there are a lot of companies out there, I can't think of one on top of my head, but if I do find it I'll tell y'all before the episodes over, but there are a lot of companies out there that offer you know, help virtually, meaning you downloading their app, whether they have an app or you're going online. You tell them your symptoms like, literally run through all the questions, just so that it can get the proper diagnosis for you or just to get as much information from you as possible, so that they can direct you to the right doctor. And it's kind of similar to wisp. You just get on the app, just tell the- the little automated app machine what's going on, and then it'll connect you with a doctor. Now you can either choose to FaceTime with this doctor, or you can just continue to chat with them via the app, and they'll, diagnose you and then they'll ask you for your local pharmacy, send it right over there. So it's literally the same as wisp, just if you just want it and normally their fees don't- they really don't exceed between, like $30-60 per virtual visit, but yeah just use your resources, my loves. Just use that like, if you don't even want to leave the house, use your phone. I've done it before. I think the most that I have paid was probably like $65, and then I just use my HSA account to pay for my medication. But yeah, you even have the option of home-testing kids, which kind of goes into that not leaving the house situation. There are a number of direct to consumer companies, such as Let's Get Checked, STD Check, and then Nurx, and it's N-U-R-X. They offer STI testing that you can do from the privacy of your home and you don't have to worry about dealing with anybody or leaving the house. And although these kits, you know, are a little bit more expensive than other testing options that I've listed before, they are a great option for folks who, just you, don't have access or you don't want to or whatever the reason is you just don't want to deal with anybody in real life, and we get it like. Especially if this is your first time you just like-I don't want to deal with it. I don't want to have to talk to anybody or explain myself! Gotchu.
But there is something that I do want you guys to avoid, and that, unfortunately, is crisis pregnancy centers. Now just the name in itself, you're just like okay, crisis pregnancy, isn't that the same thing as Planned Parenthood? No, it's not. Now, with crisis pregnancy centers, they basically kind of just like disseminate and ignore the information or they'll even provide you misleading information about getting tested. Hell, even about pregnancy. So, just please, my loves. please avoid crisis pregnancy centers, or acronymed as like, CPCs, because they really do ignore the prevailing medical standards of sexual and reproductive health, and they kind of just roadblock access for anyone who's actually seeking information on abortion, or even birth control, and they don't offer medical care, but they will attempt to convince you that they do. Please don't fall for it. So, for example, you know outside of Planned Parenthood, you got those unique human beings, because I'm not going to be disrespectful, but you have those unique, unique human beings with those signs that are just anti- abortion, all of that. There are clinics ran by these exact type of people and they will actually detour and tell women that, you know, abortion increases their risk for breast cancer, or increases your risk for, for getting an STI or an STD, and it basically just wants you to avoid getting what you're actually coming there for. Like, I don't even understand why they're ignoring not only reproductive health, but they're ignoring sexual, on top of that, like there's just a special, there's just a special place for humans like this and for centers like this, but baby, they exist and they just seek to intercept. They seek to intercept women with unintended pregnancies, who just- you know, this is who they seek out, and who might be considering abortion and they're basically there to deter you. So some good key factors to- or key signs to look out for, or key words: look out for anything that says pregnancy options, pregnancy resource center, or pregnancy care center. Like, if you see any of these types of phrases verbiage in their, like advertisements, pamphlets, signage, anywhere. That is your key to run and go because it's all misleading and I want you to be protected. Like, and I don't want you to give these people your information because then they have access to you. And I don't want anybody to harm you because we've seen it happen before where these unique people are just radical and they do more harm than helping. So just be mindful, like I really want to- I really want to like, reiterate to avoid these types of places.
But to kind of fall back into like the health insurance aspect, I wanted to just talk about Medicare for a second. Now Medicare Part B, which is just medical insurance. It covers sexually transmitted infections and our STI screenings for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, sometimes hepatitis B, if you're pregnant or at risk for an STI. Now, Medicare offers, you know, up to 2 individual, like 20-30 minute counseling sessions, if you have a sexually active adolescent or you're, an at-risk adult. So those are great things to keep in mind and STD screenings are available once every 12 months and at certain stages during your pregnancy. So it's not the the ideal, you know, interval that I would like for you guys to have, which is 3-6 months or 6 months to a year, but at least it does offer that. Now, I will say that I've I want to say it was- it was a few months ago, yeah. It was definitely a few months ago, Symone being Symone forgot to use the bathroom after having intercourse and hey—got a UTI. So you know, knowing my body and how sensitive is I was like, okay, let me try out something, you know, let me try reaching out to one of these free clinics and baby, I reached out to Planned Parenthood and, let's talk about, they were booked up for 2 months. Like there was no appointment available for me to just even just go in there to get testing. So it's like you got to be really mindful of situations like that, even when- I'm going to dive into abortions for a quick second. Like, even with abortions y'all, these clinics are really being pressured by the government and just to- they're just causing a lot of issues. So I just want you to be mindful to not really put yourself in a position to where you have to go to these places, because if they're booked up just like how my local ones are and you're trying to get an abortion done, you may be put into positions where you can't get one done, and I called around and I ended up just having to just do the the online one that I was telling you guys about through the app and getting my diagnose- my diagnosis that way and then going to get my medication. But yeah, these places have been gettin' booked, or they don't have any availability, or they're undestaffed, like there's just so much going on. So I know these are great options that I'm sharing with you, but just keep in mind that they're not always accessible like how a doctor or an urgent care is.
So, for me, I would just always recommend setting aside a little bit of money each pay period, especially if you don't have health insurance. So like, if you have health insurance, you should already have an HSA at this point, which is just a health savings account, and I have like $44 pulled out of my paycheck each pay period, and then it's put into the account- and it's just like, money that I don't even see getting taken away. And then it just pays for, like my medication- and, you know, any little thing that I need medically-wise. Now, again, if you don't have health insurance, just use your savings account or just make up a new account solely just for taking care of yourself, health-wise, and just put like 10% or like $20, or whatever the case may be. Just put money aside consistently and regularly, and in that way, when it does come down to, oh, I got to really pay for this out of pocket you'll at least have that money there and that's one less thing that you have to worry about, because when we were talking about finances before, a lot of shit's expensive, you know, taking care of yourself is very expensive, even though it's worth it, it's expensive. So it's better to be prepared than unprepared. And, lastly, your privacy, my loves. Like, you have a right to it in all aspects, and reproductive health is a deep,deep personal issue, and you probably don't want your family members, or your roommates, or friends, or whatever, whoever it is finding out about your private medical issues for any number of reasons, and that's whether it's just for the sake of not wanting people to know whether it's for your privacy, whatever. You have a right to it, and you don't have to have anybody know about anything going on with you if you if you don't want it to. Just how I kind of like went back to my ex-fiance telling my mom about my situation. Granted my mom been there done that with me. It was just another thing I just didn't want to share with her and if I wanted to share it with her, I would have told her because then that brings up a conversation because then she's getting worried. You know, you know, what I'm saying? So, if you require, you know, treatment for an STD, our favorite people, hellowisp, they offer a variety of over the counter prescription meds that can be, you know, literally dropped off to your front door, y'all in discreet packaging. When I say it's discreet, it's literally like a frosted container, can't see anything in there. So it looks like a really cute jar with the little wisp symbol and if they know what it is, they know what it is and if they don't they're like, oh, you got some cute packaging! Like, that's how discreet it is, and we can also arrange for it to be picked up at a local pharmacy, which I prefer to do, because I don't like waiting for stuff to come in the mail. Like, oh you're, saying to get to the pharmacy now, I can go pick it up in 15 minutes? Cool, because for me I like instant gratification and instant relief, so you can also have that video consultation with a board certified physician if you don't want to make a trip to your local doctor's office, that's why I am team wisp, y'all, I'm team wisp, I'm team telehealth, like I want my babies to have options and to not feel like it's the end of the world because, again, it's not.
So what I really want you to take take away from this outside of, you know, a lot of the facts and resources that I just provided—education with medically accurate informed sources is vital to knowing yourself and your body. It's- that's the best way to take care of yourself, and you can use facts to advocate for yourself and that's whether in relationships or within the doctor's office, because you can have an educated conversation when you know facts for yourself and you can advocate for yourself to make them aware, like hey, I'm not new to this, I'm not ignorant to this and then the conversation goes a bit more smoothly and you're less anxious, because you kind of already known the facts, you're just kind of having somebody you know reiterate it, or just to make you feel a little bit better about what you do know. And, you know, have open conversations with your partners and your doctors, Definitely with your partners, but definitely, for sure With your- with your doctors, y'all. They need to know what's going on with you, they're only there to really help you. So, I really just want you to become more educated about your sexual health, whether it's, you know, through our podcast, whether it's going on to wisp and learning more, whether it's just googling, you know these different symptoms, googling these different infections, and you know, how they come about, if they're curable or not. Like, you're not alone out there, and I promise you if you just spent a little time diving into it, you'd be really, really surprised and this type of research can just look different depending on the topic. But you know, health departments like the CDC and the State Health Department websites are great and [inaudible] sources. Even articles that are written by doctors and nurses are a really good place to start. Now, when you're reading these articles, yeah definitely research who is writing it and look up their credentials if you can before really just diving into taking what they said for, you know, for face value. And you can also look at podcasts like this one, but I'm sure there's other podcasts out there that, you know, are tackling the same issues that I am and trying to get you guys more aware, and getting you active in learning about this and just discussing sexual health, and just read more blogs, but double-check, again, double-check the people talking are informed. Don't come for me 'cause, baby, I'm informed, but as for everybody else, just to make sure that you fact-checked and open conversations, quote-unquote, to talk, speak honestly and openly. Know your options and don't try to hide anything because I promise you when you do? It's difficult to discuss and, like my mama in the word always told me, everything done in the dark comes to light. I don't care if it takes years. This is a great way of showing you that everything done in the dark, literally and figuratively, comes to light.
So yeah, I hope you guys took a lot of notes. I hope I've answered a lot of questions and helped, you know, garnered some more— what's the word I'm looking for—some more confidence and knowing that there's help out there, that you're not helpless, that you have options, and that you are not the only one. I promise you, you're not. So again, my loves, before I go, you can hit us up. Me, @SymoneElena, wisp on IG and Twitter @hellowisp. Again, it's W-I-S-P. We're starting to hone down on the last 2 episodes of the season, and I'm really excited about these last 2 episodes because we're going to start talking about home remedies, and baby I'm about- I'm going to be talking my shit on this home remedies because y'all be doing some crazy shit out here, and I cannot wait to debunk, but also educate you on a lot of things. So, until next time, my loves, be love, be light, wrap it up once, never twice.

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