March is Women’s History Month, and we are taking the time to recognize MSIH alum Dr. Rachel Pope (Class of 2011), a trailblazer committed to empowering women to make informed decisions regarding their reproductive and sexual health while providing compassionate patient care.
Rachel Pope, MD, MPH, is an obstetrician/gynecologist and division chief of Female Sexual Health in the Urology Institute at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center in Cleveland, OH. Additionally, she has an appointment in the Department of Reproductive Biology.
In her current role, Dr. Pope works with a team of women’s health experts, including reconstructive surgeons, pelvic floor physical therapists and female pelvic medicine experts, to address female sexual health concerns.
Dr. Pope shared, “There’s an underlying taboo around women’s sexuality and sexual health, an underlying shame or embarrassment. We’re hoping to put this to rest. Although sexual health problems vary widely, the thing they have in common is that people don’t like talking about them publicly and women don’t know where to turn to for help.” Female sexual dysfunction is common in the US, and around the world, however it often goes undiagnosed for many. “We want to change this mindset and empower women.”
Dr. Pope encourages fellow physicians to discuss their patients’ sexual health concerns, so that there is a safe space for them to have their voices heard and find solutions to issues they may be facing.
Dr. Pope graduated from MSIH in 2011. She describes her MSIH experience as, “Incredible. Medical school is going to be tough anywhere, but the surrounding culture and the integration of culture in medical studies at MSIH is what makes the school special. I was also constantly inspired by my classmates who were also passionate about global health. Whether it was through refugee care, volunteering in the underserved communities around us, etc., someone was always doing something big.”
Dr. Pope completed residency in obstetrics/gynecology at University Hospitals, followed by a fellowship in global women’s health at Baylor College of Medicine. After her fellowship, she served as the medical director and head surgeon at Freedom from Fistula’s Obstetric Fistula Hospital in Lilongwe, Malawi while faculty and fellowship director for Baylor’s global women’s health program. She specialized in childbirth injuries, including obstetric fistula in sub-Saharan Africa. Dr. Pope has additional training in vulvar and vaginal disorders and sexual dysfunction.
Dr. Pope’s research is primarily focused on obstetric fistula and public health topics, including reproductive health and SARS-CoV-2, and barriers to women’s sexual and reproductive health care.