HOUSTON (KTRK) --Pelvic pain, pressure, even incontinence aren't topics most women talk about, but these medical issues happen to one in three of us. These pelvic issues affect women of all ages and dealing with one can be life-altering. Most don't think they have options other than drugs or surgery, but now there's a way to get treatment without the embarrassment, and it's at the new Pelvic Floor Health Center at Memorial Hermann Memorial City.
After France Webster gave birth 20 years ago, her body changed more than she expected.
"It was an inability to contain myself. I was incontinent. I'd be walking and was, you know, scared not being able to find a bathroom fast enough," Webster explains.
And when Vanessa Schlitzkus gave birth to her daughter, Lizzy 15 months ago, "The following morning when I woke up, I was in a lot of pain," says Schlitzkus.
The excruciating pain in her back and side led her to Uro-Gynecologist Apurva Pancholy at Memorial Hermann Memorial City and UT Health.
"Her pain was associated with muscle dysfunction," explains Pancholy.
"He knew exactly what was wrong by feeling my pelvis area, and he said my pelvis did not close back after delivery," adds Schlitzkus.
Pancholy prescribed physical therapy for Vanessa.
"The pain is not near what it was. It's really helping," she says.
And it's something he recommends for all postpartum patients.
"So if the muscle has been stretched or not working properly, you can rehab it while the patient is younger and avoid the issues when they're older," adds Pancholy.
The team at the new Pelvic Floor Center also work with patients dealing with hernias, pain, sexual dysfunction, and that incontinence that Webster suffers from.
"I honestly was like, 'Yeah, I've got to go see somebody to do Kegels in front of them. Woo,'" says Webster.
Along with internal physical therapy, Webster does drills wearing an internal sensor.
"We actually use an EMG - it's a computer that will show them if they're activating properly, and they can see on the screen," says Gail Zitterkopf, a physical therapist.
Zitterkopf adds, "France enjoys running but nobody enjoys running with pads, which cause chafing and skin breakdown. So, we'll put them on the treadmill and make sure they can hold the sensor...For us to do that with the sensor in, actually helps the pelvic floor more."
Dr. Pancholy says for some patients, more treatments are needed, like surgery, a pacemaker in the bladder to control the nerve activity and even Botox injections to relax the bladder muscles. But for about 80 percent of patients, the specialized physical therapy Webster is getting is enough.
"It really is a life-changer. You regain your freedom. You feel more confident," says Webster.
The Pelvic Floor Health Center at Memorial Hermann Memorial City opens next Monday, October 10.