wis·per·ing /ˈ(h)wispər-ing: verb to turn up the volume of our reproductive & sexual health conversations
Why no "h"? We're changing the conversation around sex, our bodies and reproductive health.
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.
What's up, ya'll? Again, wecome back Wispering Podcast. I'm Symone Elena, your host. So this is kind of gonna be a continuation, I should say, of Episode 3 where we were talking about finances, but this version of finances is gonna be The Cost of Avoidance, meaning how expensive this shit gonna be if you don't do what I tell you to do, that's basically what it is. So, again, get out that same pad of paper, pencil, pen, whatever. We're just going to take a couple notes, so just hang in there with me.
So avoiding treatment for reproductive infections and routine care often leads to worsening symptoms and guess what? More extreme intervention. So when an STI just pulls up and just rears its ugly head, it's best to take action and just go ahead and nip it in the bud. Pause. I'm sorry because a friend of mine told me that is like a horrible phrase, but I'm gonna figure out why it's an incorrect phrase, I'm gonna figure that out later. Anywho, despite the increasing cost of health care in the US, there are still affordable treatment options available to the public, so postponing medical attention when it requires you to get attention, it's just going to intensify any emotional anguish in the long run for you and for potentially anybody else who might be suffering along with you and just a simple round of antibiotics can easily become long term reproductive impacts. And guess what? It can also require you to stay in the hospital as well. And then again, that falls back into more money that you're gonna to have to shell out because you're in the hospital — and we all know how expensive those daily stays can become. So while you may be just really tempted to avoid the embarrassment of the doctor or having that quote unquote, the talk, with a prospective partner avoiding prompt treatment just only leads to higher cost over time.
But luckily we do live in the age of information where we can just shop around online and order just budget-friendly monthly refills such as those that are offered by Wisp. But there are still a significant number of people who freeze at the idea of just talking to a doctor about STIs, and they prefer to ignore their symptoms or take their chances with ineffective home remedies. And I promise y'all, nine times out of ten what you're trying to cook up in the kitchen isn't going to work and I'm just going to reiterate that story that I told you about my brother and one of his homeboys, like he was just not confident enough in himself to go and have that conversation with his own doctor and he asked my brother to go do it. Again, there's no real logic behind that, and I don't really know how that would work, especially if you have a clean bill of health, so just don't do it. Just go do it yourself. And I do want remind you like, there is a way to assess quick, affordable care. Again, free-standing clinics are a good part for you to just tap into, like it's a good part for you to just tap into to get you that free healthcare without having to worry about any form of medical bills, especially if you find yourself suddenly dealing with the ramifications of an untreated STI like this is such a great step, and if you're paying for it out of pocket? Again — free standing clinics. Google them, find them they're around you. And many patients who believe they are experiencing STD symptoms will seek treatment at a free-standing clinic. So, these clinics are just away for you and other patients just to get treatment very quickly, privately, and affordably, especially if you are uninsured. These clinics also often are publicly funded so it will allow you to avoid any potential awkwardness by seeking care from health care professionals who are not affiliated with the regular physician. So this is somebody you just may never have to see again versus going to see your physician who's, probably going to scold you, like how mine did.
Mine- I've had Dr. M since I was 16 and when I would go in there like, I kid you not, like every other month, I was going in there because I kept getting a yeast infection somehow, and she's just looking at me like I'm ignorant. She's like, Symone, what are you doing? I'm like, I'm not doing anything like this, especially around the time when I wasn't having sex. Shit was just coming up out of nowhere and she would just keep scolding me and I- granted I knew she loved me because at this point, I'm 30 now, and I've still been going to her. But still, you don't want to have those types of conversations with physicians you don't feel that you're as close to. And the ability to treat infections quickly, ideally with the single just antibiotic dose, is crucial to this structure since there's no guarantee patients will return for a follow-up. Like folks will really go get the antibiotics, get cured, and then just go back in the streets and never just return just to get a follow-up to make sure everything was okay, like they really just trusted that one or two pill, and then just went on and never just went back. Follow-ups are very important, ya'll. And since many many of those people who are most vulnerable to STIs do not have health insurance, and these are type of people like students, younger folks, low-income individuals and families, and also a lot of people in the LGBTQ community. So, making quick, low-cost STI treatments accessible to everyone is very important for making sure people don't put off treatment for concerns that just may have a big impact on their health down the line, and we understand that, in the absence of serious symptoms, it just may be tempting to ignore an STI in the hopes that it will go away on its own, promising to take care of it if the symptoms get worse, Blah Blah Blah. No. don't do that. It's important to know that untreated infections can have serious long term effects like inflammation and infertility, and I don't know how many times I can say that until like it really sticks into all's mind, so I kind of just want to run down like a few of the let's say, a few of the leaders of STIs and STDs that are very common and they are most reported.
You know here in the US, for example, chlamydia is the most commonly reported STI in the US, and the CDC estimates about 4 million cases in 2018 alone. I don't even want to know the numbers for 2021, but especially with people, everybody was just having sex during COVID. Everybody, like some people, being pregnant, like I'm scared, to know what the statistics are now, but of those cases approximately 70% of infected women and 50% of men exhibited no symptoms of chlamydia at all. So just think about all those cases and not even scratching the surface of how many people had no symptoms at all of it. And that's a lot of people walking around with the same infection, but with no symptoms. So repeat infections of chlamydia are extremely common and condoms are useful if they're used correctly, like if ya'll put them on properly they stay on, they will protect against chlamydia and, if treated promptly, the infection does not cause any series long term problems, and that ends up being the consequence for a lot of people. You get chlamydia and you don't take care of it right away once you do start seeing the symptoms or you didn't get to your annual screening like you should, and it ended up just ruining your body down the long run, and we just, we just don't want that. So a single dose of antibiotics is enough to cure chlamydia completely. However, if you leave it untreated, it can just cause more serious long term health effects such as an increase risk of contracting HIV and or infertility in men, PID, which is just Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, infertility, miscarriage and/or preterm labor in women.
That's just chlamydia alone. Gonorrhea also known as the Clap, and I really was just about to clap. Okay, also known as the Clap, it can be transmitted by any of the body's orifices. So that means the penis, the vagina, ya ass, ya mouth, ya eye, okay, sorry yeah your eyes, hoo yeah gonorrhea. It occurs together with chlamydia, they technically be going hand in hand sometimes, so that often leads to dual treatment of both diseases, and it is often recommended, even if a chlamydia test hasn't been performed, they do tend to like, do both. And gonorrhea can be transmitted without penetration, even when sharing sex toys, and that goes back to getting it in your eye. Okay, let me stop cuz I'm going to start laughing again, but yeah gonorrhea is treatable with antibiotics. But again, if it's left untreated, it can increase your risk of contracting HIV. And additional long term effects of untreated infections. Just include internal scarring, ectopic pregnancies, or miscarriage, inflammation of the prostate and infertility.
It's basically just ruining your whole life is what it's really boiling down to, and we cannot, we really cannot forget about herpes, ya'll, like God forbid, we forget about herpes, and a quick Google search for herpes just yields hundreds of thousands of results with titles like, "Why you should assume everyone has herpes," and "You probably have herpes" and that's because herpes is human. Like it's a whole person and 1 out of 6 Americans between the ages of 14 and 49 have HSV-2 which is the virus that generally causes genital herpes and that shit ain't fun. I mean granted, I don't have it and I'm, yeah, it's just not fun for people that I do know that have it, and of those it's estimated that 80% don't know they're infected with the virus. Now HSV-1 is typically the viruses that causes cold sores on your mouth, it can also cause genital herpes when transmitted via oral sex. I want to share a story, but in the hold off for a second. So herpes is so common because it can lie dormant for years and spread with or without symptoms through skin-to-skin contact, and- and I mean now- this doesn't mean to scare you, but it kind of is. The point is that herpes is common and manageable.
So I'll kind of just insert something here. I was talking to my best friends, we were in the group message. I normally ignore they asses because they don't be talking about nothing, but then, when I decided to catch up, my restaurant was telling me she was like this girl, she can tell that, you know, she was flirting with her boyfriend. They're, all like, at this pool party or whatever, and you know she's confident in her relationship, in herself, so she wasn't stunting it, but she said that the girl was telling her boyfriend, "Yeah, I get my flare-ups quite often, or whatever, they only kind of happen around this time, but I've I've had it since I was a kid." She was talking about her cold sores like her cold sores is booming, like Osmosis Jones like bumping, like it was, it was going and she was comfortable enough talking about it, which of course again the whole point of having this podcast, and these conversations is to bring some normalcy in it. But the key thing that I wanted to focus on is that she says: She's had it since she was a kid and it wasn't her fault, ya'll. So this is when I talk about making sure you're, not letting anybody kiss on your kids, not letting anybody kiss on you that you don't want kissing you, don't share drinks, ya'll be out here sharing Henny bottles and then got the nerve to be like alcohol kills germs. Then you gon' end up with a cold sore. And for the longest I paid no attention to people who had cold sores because I'm just thinking like they literally only got it around the winter time because their skin is drying and it's cold outside. And it's just like, no, the weather just could be a trigger for why their flare- up is happening, but that is something that they will have for life and it goes dormant and when it decides to show up it, it'll show up. It's something that you'll never be able to get rid of, but at the same time again it is contagious. So once her mouth touches another person, they have it, and it's just that simple.
And although herpes isn't curable, it can be treated with an antiviral medication which shortens outbreaks and decreases, you know, the infectiousness, but there are also medications to relieve outbreak symptoms, because I have been told that the pain is horrible. You know, there is that redness, that itchiness, that tingling. So again, it's not curable, but you can live your life with it still. You just have to be very careful and very cautious, and it was very unfortunate that she had to experience that because again to have that happen to you as a child and not know who gave it to you or how you got it, and now it's affecting you life long wise, it's just not fair. And herpes is known for its unpredictability, and some people experience just one outbreak and the virus just lays dormant for years. Others experience frequent severe outbreaks, it just depends on the person and it really just depends on when it wants to show up. It just does what it wants, but again there could be a trigger that's forcing it to show up more frequently or less, and it's a good idea to take note like if you do have cold sores guys. I would definitely keep note of whenever you're getting your flare-ups so that way, you can just be more prepared and you're not always surprised by the effects of it popping up out of nowhere. That way, you can just kind of keep a track of it and share that information with your physician. And if someone is experiencing an increased frequency and severity of the herpes outbreak. Like I said, speak to your doctor about any antiviral medication to help control the outbreak and just lessen the severity of it. Again, it's not curable, but you can makee it manageable to still live your life and open sores can lead to increased vulnerability to other infections, especially in people with suppressed immune systems. So if someone, you know, has an autoimmune disease or you do know that they're, they're more prone to getting sick. Yes, you definitely need to find ways to manage it with the antiviral medications because the one thing you don't want to happen is to cause yourself more pain, and you also don't need to suffer in silence because you're experiencing something like this. Like it's, okay, I am going to do my best to normalize this as much as possible.
But just like, on a final tip, it's just important to remember that, just because you feel fine, it does not mean that you are fine. The most common symptoms of STIs is just no symptoms at all, and it's always a good idea to be screened regularly, especially if you're having sex. And it's always it's always a good idea to do it before a new sex partner. I actually had a friend any time she would date a new guy and they wanted to have unprotected sex with her she'd, be like yeah sure, I'm totally down for that, but we're both going to go get tested together, and if there was any refusal to do that, that just made the decision for her easier to where she's like okay, well, then we don't need to date and hell, not even to have sex, we don't need to date. If me asking you to go, do something with me is causing you this much pain or upsetness, or anything like that. So that is also a good way to build trust in a new relationship or somebody that, even if you have no plans on long term being with them, it's still, you need to have trust with the people that you're sleeping with. I understand people have one night stands all the time, but for those of you who just don't prefer to get down like that, that's a great way to build trust and honesty in a new partnership, relationship, whatever the case may be. So if you do find yourself dealing with an STI or a flare-up, put it on your big girl pants, or put on your big boy draws, and just deal with it head on. Your body and whoever else you were dating down the line or getting involved with, will thank you later.
So for today's community question I asked: How do you approach the talk? "The Talk," like I'm putting air quotes around "The Talk" with a new sexual partner, so meaning: How do you approach, "Hey? Have you been tested? If you have been tested, have you had anything? Have you had anything in the past?" Like you do have to talk about it like you're in a whole medical office, and you have to do that run down, like it's so important, And someone gave me this beautiful response and they told me, "Be confident and firm. If there's difficulty answering your questions, I guess you'll need to decide if you like to be as sexually active with them moving forward. There's really no other way to be upfront, in my opinion. Be respectful, of course, but it's a valid concern." And what I love most about this is, if there's any difficulty answering your questions and not so much like, like not the whole stuttering process, but if they're giving you, if they're just fighting you on answering basic, simple questions about you wanting to protect yourself, they do not care about you and not only do they not care about you, they don't care about themselves. And you don't want that in your life. You don't want that transferring of energy in you, like, yes, soul ties are very much a real thing, no matter if they are there for a long time or a short time. You want to make sure that whoever you're allowing into your space internally and externally, that they care about you and if they're having problems answering just real basic generic questions that they would still have to answer to a doctor or any physician for that matter, you don't want that, and you don't need that for yourself and you don't deserve it, y'all. You don't. So, I hope today, kind of helped you get a better idea of how you can be more financially literate when it comes to taking care of yourself sexually and hopefully I give you some options on how to go about that, especially to those of you out there who are suffering in silence when it comes to financially being able to afford getting this type of care, and knowing that you do have support out there.
It just takes a little bit of, you know, just a little bit of effort, but again before I go, if you need to reach out to Wisp in any way, whether it's via social media or their website, you can reach them at hellowisp.com and the same for Instagram and Twitter. It's @hellowisp. For me, I mean I'm ignorant on instagram so I really, you know, I really don't do too much answering my DMs. But if you do ever need me, it's @SymoneElena, but until next time ya'll, again, be love, be light, wrap it up on never twice.