Guest Pod Post: Noa Fleischacker from the TIGHT LIPPED Podcast

While planning our season four schedule, the DYEP team decided to take time to highlight podcasts straight from the creators. Today, we welcome Noa Fleischacker from the Tight Lipped podcast. Tight Lipped is a podcast all about female chronic pain, exploring “how gender, race, sexual orientation and class impact women and non-binary folks’ experiences of healthcare and of their own bodies…” You can find out more on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter @tightlippedpod.

Tight Lipped is a storytelling podcast about chronic vulvovaginal and pelvic pain conditions, including vulvodynia, vaginismus, and pelvic floor dysfunction. These conditions are remarkably common: up to one in four people with vaginas will experience chronic vulvovaginal pain in their lifetime. If so many people have this kind of pain, why are none of us talking about it? How do so many people harbor the belief that their pain is normal, or that they’re not deserving of treatment and care?

Shrouded in shame, stigma, and silence, people seeking care are often dismissed and misunderstood both in the healthcare system and society. Our show examines how social pressure, norms, and public discourse around sex impact how people with vulvovaginal pain experience their own bodies, health, and sexuality. We feature honest personal stories in addition to insight from professionals who offer analysis about the social, political and cultural aspects of this “private” pain. The show is hosted by me, Noa Fleischacker, and the pilot episode follows my personal story: excruciating pain when trying to insert tampons, while undergoing routine OB/GYN examinations, and during every sexual experience. The pain is so intense that it is physically impossible to be vaginally penetrated without undergoing anesthesia. I didn’t tell anyone about what I was dealing with; instead, in a state of utter confusion, shame, embarrassment, and hopelessness, I hid my pain and visited doctor after doctor in search of answers and some sense of relief. One evening my friend shared a story about someone she knew who was experiencing pain during sex. That evening, for the first time, I realized she might have an actual medical condition and that her pain was not as abnormal and rare as I’d been made to believe. The episode follows my story as I quickly learns that I’m not the only one in the world with this condition—that, in fact, chronic vulvovaginal pain conditions are incredibly common. Tight Lipped ushers listeners along a journey to learn why these conditions are so common yet so severely understudied, under-researched, and generally misunderstood.  

This subject matter lends itself to a podcast format because these experiences are often only whispered about behind closed doors, if shared at all. On our show, we create a public conversation about this “private” pain. We bring in the voices of people who are still coming to terms with their pain, some of whom choose to remain anonymous on the show. Storytelling has huge stakes for our audience—narratives told in Tight Lipped can be the difference between a listener thinking they are the only person in the world with a particular narrative and realizing that there are people all around them quietly enduring the same pain. Hearing these narratives in a public forum can also help sufferers stop blaming themselves for their pain and realize that when a doctor questions their symptoms or when an insurance company denies treatment coverage, there is a much larger political story to be told.

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Thank you, Noa! Go check out Tight Lipped here.

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