Book Review – My Journey to a Better Bladder by Teri A. Larson

Written by Carol Petersen, RPh, CNP – Women’s International Pharmacy

Given that our Connections newsletters are intended to help readers on a path to better health, we were ecstatic to learn that our newsletter titled A Quiet Epidemic of Bladder Troubles, along with an e-newsletter titled A Sense of Urgency, had been instrumental in Teri Larison’s research and subsequent publication of her e-book, My Journey to a Better Bladder.

Too often, when browsing the Health section in a bookstore or doing an internet search, you find coping strategies rather than real solutions. Teri’s book illustrates the power of the do-it-yourself options.

When Teri began to have bladder trouble, she engaged her OB/GYN and urologists, who treated her urgency or irritable bladder with antibiotics and drugs designed to dampen the nervous system irritability, but to no avail. Even Kegel exercises, which she thought would help the situation, were impossible for her to do.

Finally, the diagnosis from a cystoscopy indicated that Teri had a bladder prolapse, which prompted her to learn more about it. She was offered two choices: physical therapy, with little hope of healing; or surgery, which included adding meshes to hold the bladder in place. Although surgery was enthusiastically endorsed by her physician, an internet search alerted her to the possibility of outcomes that were less than ideal.

Teri used a scientific method to find relief from her irritable bladder. She thoroughly researched the implications of surgery and dismissed that as an option for herself. She carefully documented her research and her whole program, identifying the information that influenced her decisions. She then shared those results in her book.

Central to turning her condition around was having something in her vagina that would support her bladder. Products called vaginal pessaries are designed to do this, but Teri hit upon the idea of using a tampon. When she inserted one, she immediately felt that she was on the right track because the urgency diminished. Then she discovered that she could actually start doing Kegel exercises, which she found demonstrated on YouTube.

Teri also learned that diet affected her bladder, so she started making healthier food choices, avoiding the foods that were particularly irritating. One of the biggest hurdles to overcome was reversing the conditioning of her bladder to stop the sense of urgency, even when small amounts of urine had accumulated. She carefully examined her routines and started disconnecting the bathroom visits with certain activities, while also gradually increasing the time between bathroom visits. With all this in place, Teri reports that she successfully—on her own—conquered the misery of an irritable bladder. She devised charts and daily plans, which she used herself, and now provides for her readers.

After reading her book, I contacted Teri to share a few more tidbits of information. A family member who is an OB/GYN told me years ago that her mentor taught her about using a clean white handkerchief rolled tightly and inserted into the vagina to help with prolapse. Recently, I read (on the internet, of course) that pressing into the middle of the palm of the hand can relieve the sense of urgency to urinate for about 20 minutes. I used it myself with success while driving to an airport a few weeks ago.

I also suggested that Teri check into her testosterone levels. The bladder and urinary tract tissue are highly populated with testosterone receptors. Testosterone is the director in all protein metabolism and is thus a key player in all structural issues. Unfortunately, testosterone is a hormone that is often ignored in women’s health. In reality, normal testosterone levels exceed the levels of estrogens in women, so its importance should not be dismissed so lightly.

These days, our health system does not typically allow for adequate time to consult with the experts. However, there are many good resources available to help you fix the problem yourself. The internet offers opportunities never previously available to us, such as medical studies, original scientific research and, perhaps best of all, other people—like Teri—who are willing to share resources and their personal experiences.

For those who are eager to make a difference in their own bladder health, Teri offers a very comprehensive blueprint. She is also an inspiration to anyone who has a health problem to solve.