Although endometriosis was first identified over 160 years ago, substantial knowledge gaps remain for this complicated and devastating disease. Despite one in ten people with a uterus suffering from endometriosis, the diagnostic delay averages between seven to ten years. While waiting for a diagnosis, those affected continue to battle debilitating pain affecting their education, career, sex life, and mental health. 

In today’s episode of the Your Health Unlocked Podcast, we are joined by Dr. Jocelyn Fitzgerald, a urogynecologist hoping to raise more awareness about this chronic illness, which she refers to as “the cancer that never kills you.” Join us for a sobering and eye-opening look into endometriosis and a health care system in need of a stark wake-up call to tackle what’s often referred to as “the missed disease.” 

In this episode, you will learn:

  • What endometriosis is and what its symptoms can look like
  • Why it’s difficult to diagnose this chronic illness
  • What major obstacles impede endometriosis research
  • What health care providers can do to improve the experience of endometriosis patients
  • How patients can advocate for themselves and get a faster diagnosis if they suspect they suffer from endometriosis

More about Dr. Fitzgerald: 

Jocelyn Fitzgerald, MD, specializes in urogynecology and is certified in obstetrics and gynecology by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She works in Pittsburgh, PA, and is affiliated with UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital.

Dr. Fitzgerald was born at Magee-Womens Hospital and is a lifelong Pittsburgher. She attended the Penn State University Schreyer Honors College and earned dual degrees in Biology/Neurobiology and Women’s Studies/Women’s Health. She attended the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and graduated from the PSTP program in 2013. She completed her Gynecology and Obstetrics residency at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and her fellowship in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery at Georgetown University/MedStar Health.

Education & Training:

  • Fellowship, Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery, Georgetown University School of Medicine
  • Residency, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • MD, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Resources for Episode 023:

Some Terms and Linked Definitions:  

References Mentioned:

The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study is one of the largest women's health projects ever launched in the United States, enrolling more than 161,000 women at 40 clinical centers. You can find out more about how this contributes to scientific discovery here. 

Read Hannah George’s article outlining her long and painful road to discovering and treating her endometriosis. 

The study from the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology: ‘Gender differences in obstetrics NIH funding’ investigates potential gender disparities in funding in NIH-funded studies in obstetrics.  

Below The Belt” is a moving documentary directed by Shannon Cohn and executive produced by Hillary Clinton. It follows a diverse selection of women with endometriosis as they navigate their diagnosis. You can find out more and watch the trailer here. 

Nancy’s Nook is an endometriosis learning library to help people better understand the disease, advocate for their health, and get the best possible treatment. 

Dr. Lisa Sanders is an associate professor at the Yale University School of Medicine who writes about medical mysteries for The New York Times Magazine. There is now a new documentary series on Netflix based on her column. 

Find out more about the subspecialties of OB-GYN, as outlined by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, here. 

Magee-Womens Research Institute and Foundation is the largest research institute in the U.S. devoted exclusively to women's health research. You can donate here to support their work. 

The primary purpose of this podcast is to educate and entertain. All views expressed by the persons featured on the Your Health Unlocked podcast are their own and do not reflect the opinions of the NWHN or its affiliates. Information provided in this podcast does not constitute medical advice. Consult your own provider for any medical issues that you may be experiencing.

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