Not content with re-opening her business amid a global pandemic, London businessperson Erin Craven has taken it up a notch – expanding her business to Toronto.
Urospot, a private medical spa where women and men get help with incontinence, opened in London in October, and was shut down by mid-March when COVID-19 struck.
Now, reopening only for a few weeks, she’s opened a second location in Toronto, believing even coronavirus will not stop women from searching for relief.
“Women’s health care has for decades been under-served when it comes to technology. There are options out there, but they can be more invasive. What we offer is a radically innovative way of treatment,” said Craven.
She made the move to open in Toronto on July 27 as she anticipated a pent-up demand when businesses were able to re-open and wanted “to play offence,” in meeting that demand.
“It is about how much risk you are willing to take,” she said.
Urospot offers treatment for women and men suffering from incontinence, not unusual after childbirth for women and prostate surgery in men.
The treatment usually consists of building up the pelvic floor through kegel exercises, which strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which support the uterus, bladder, small intestine and rectum.
Urospot uses a “kegel chair” which promises through the use of electromagnetic technology to stimulate pelvic floor muscles. It generates the equivalent of 11,000 kegels in 28 minutes, for patients seated in the chair, fully clothed.
The treatment is costly, $1,800 for six sessions and $675 a year after for maintenance.
Kathy Plaine, 57, from Strathroy, suffered for years from bladder leaks and incontinence, and credits Urospot with helping.
“It gave me my life back, my peace of mind. No one talks about this but it needs to be talked about,” said Plaine.
“I could not sleep at night because I was going to the bathroom. I never got proper rest. It interfered with me biking, hiking, doing yoga and exercising. I couldn’t walk the dog without going to the bathroom.”
She did the full six sessions in July and plans on going back for maintenance.
“It is the unspoken topic. No one ever talks about this. Now I am biking. I go for walks. I began exercising again. It gave me my confidence back.”
It has even helped her in more intimate areas of her marriage, as she experienced pain before the Urospot treatment, she added.
She did not see a physiotherapist before attending Urospot but her doctor did recommend surgery.
But Urospot and the kegel chair is not without its doubters. London pelvic floor physiotherapist Ibukun Afolabi, owner of The Mama’s Physio, wrote a blog questioning the treatment. She suggests women see a physiotherapist and doctor before seeking a costly, private treatment.
“I think women should be evaluated by a pelvic floor physiotherapist and an OB-GYN. Incontinence is multi-faceted and if anyone tells you it is about just doing kegels, that is misleading,” said Afolabi.
But she is also quick to admit the research suggests it does works for some women, although it is costly.
“It is a luxury for the privileged,” she said.
The blog post can be found at themamasphysio.com.
Craven initially took issue with the blog questioning Urospot and at one point threatened legal action if it was not taken down. The matter was resolved without legal action, and both sides declined comment.
Craven said she views the Urospot treatment as “complementary” to physiotherapy.
“Many women may need extra help to get what they need. Physiotherapy is a wonderful option. We refer women to physiotherapy,” said Craven.
The kind of technology used in the kegel chair system has been approved by Health Canada and the FDA in the U.S. following studies, she said.
A 2019 study published in the journal Lasers in Surgery and Medicine, concluded after electromagnetic treatment, 61 out of 75 patients (81.3 per cent) reported “significant improvement of their symptoms.”
Another study at two U.S. clinics suggested 77 per cent of women studied saw improvement.
“The results obtained from this study suggest the HIFEM technology (high intensity focused electromagnetic) is a promising approach for pelvic floor muscles stimulation that further improves the quality of life for patients,” it stated.
As for helping men after prostate surgery, a study of 10 men done in the U.S. and Spain cited an improvement in incontinence using the technique, stating pad use was reduced by one pad per day and two of the 10 men were pad free.
Craven was an executive at 3M Canada and owned her own pharmacy business before opening Urospot and that business background has helped her expand in the pandemic.
“It was a significant investment, but we know how to make it through the tough times. We scaled back and we got relief where we needed it,” said Craven.
She cited federal government support programs, loans, wage subsidies and rent relief, as helping.
“We looked at every expense to see where we can get relief. We took advantage of everything we could.”
Craven suggests some women are in long-term care homes due to bladder issues.
“We want women to retain their independence, to stay active. This plays a huge role in independence,’ she said.