The concept of pelvic health is nothing new. In fact, the notion of offering pelvic floor therapy after childbirth has been around since 1948, and with the rise in popularity of yoga and Pilates over the past 10 years, the term “pelvic floor” has become part of many people’s daily vernacular. But understanding what your pelvic floor is, its inherent value and the need for it to be healthy throughout your life is another story altogether.
According to multiple studies, including a 2022 study from the Carver College of Medicine at Iowa University, one in three women in the U.S. will experience pelvic floor disorders in their lifetimes and the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) estimates there are fewer than 10,000 pelvic health physiotherapists to serve their needs. By all accounts, pelvic health issues are considered one of the most under-reported and underserved health concerns for women in the U.S. — a narrative Dr. Kathryn DeBerry, PT, DPT, PCES, is out to change in the Coastal Bend.
“The pelvic floor,” explained DeBerry, “is the Grand Central Station of your body. All the weight transfer happens in your pelvis and if those muscles are too tight or too loose, they can affect everything from your feet to your jaw.”
For DeBerry, the pelvic floor and the need for this basket of muscles — which sits at the base of your pelvis and supports your bladder, uterus and colon — to be at the top of its game in every stage of life goes beyond a job; it is instead a passion steeped in personal experience.
“Even as a trained physiotherapist, I didn’t understand the magnitude of pelvic health,” DeBerry shared candidly, “not until 2018 when I had my first child. In the small town in Tennessee where we lived at the time, there were no therapy services available. I had some significant postpartum pelvic floor issues and I had to drive three hours — one way — to find a therapist. I decided then and there, offering pelvic health therapy for women was where I wanted to invest my physical therapy skills.” And that’s exactly what she did.
Originally from San Antonio, this South Texas native — outfitted with her physical therapy expertise and compassion — eventually found her way back to the Lone Star State, landing in Corpus Christi in 2020. Once here, she discovered there was not a pelvic health therapist anywhere in sight, solidifying her resolve to open her own pelvic wellness center. One pandemic and two children later, DeBerry accomplished that goal, opening South Texas Pelvic Health this year to serve women in the Coastal Bend suffering from pelvic health issues before and during pregnancy, post-partum, through menopause and beyond.
“Too many women suffer in silence,” said DeBerry, “thinking pelvic pain, incontinence, bowel issues and sexual dysfunction are simply part of life. They have been conditioned to believe you just have to live with those problems.” Not true.
“Another struggle for women is that pelvic health is often uncomfortable to discuss. So, women often don’t say anything — not to a doctor, family or friends. They just stay home and distance themselves from social interactions. That’s why education is critical, as well as having a safe place to have sensitive conversations.”
Compounding the problem is the fact that pelvic floor therapy is not classified as a standard of care for women in the U.S. By contrast, in Europe following childbirth, it is the standard of care, with up to 10 therapy sessions offered after each pregnancy.
“There are so many benefits to pelvic health therapy,” said DeBerry, “and we are definitely behind the curve in the U.S. I want to change that narrative for women in the Coastal Bend, hand them back their pelvic health and offer a pathway to a better quality of life.”
Contact: 1045 Airline Rd #1, Corpus Christi, TX 78412 | @southexaspelvichealth