3 Things to Know about Shy Bladder Syndrome


Shy bladder syndrome is an anxiety disorder. Thus far, it seems that researchers consider shy bladder syndrome to be a form of social anxiety. Also known as “paruresis,” the condition is a type of phobia that involves a strong fear of relieving oneself when someone else may be in the one’s vicinity. This can mean being unable to use the restroom in a public building such as one’s workplace or school.

Key Paruresis Facts

Knowing certain things about shy bladder syndrome can make it less difficult to deal with. See the three key facts to know about paruresis just below.

1.) Paruresis research is limited.

It is important to find credible sources of information and to consult with professionals about the condition. Unfortunately, the lack of research means that it is difficult to know certain facts for sure, such as the prevalence of the disorder. The International Paruresis Association (IPA), which is one excellent and highly recommended source of information on shy bladder syndrome, estimates prevalence in the American adult population at 6.6 percent.

2.) Talking about shy bladder syndrome is important.

Paruresis can be a lonely disorder; it is not something that most people talk about or have heard about. Some people who have paruresis feel unable to express what they are going through; others are embarrassed by it, or they think they are alone in their struggle with the condition. Sharing about paruresis with a trusted friend or family member can make having the condition feel less isolating and stressful. Also, talking about paruresis with a doctor or a licensed mental health worker can reveal treatment options and resources for help. A worker in the medical or mental health field can provide documentation showing that someone has paruresis; this ensures that employees with the condition have proof of its existence in the event that a urine test is needed.

3.) Paruresis is treatable.

Graduated exposure therapy is one technique that can be used to cure paruresis. According to the Social Anxiety Disorder section of About.com, this type of therapy involves “gradually using restrooms in increasingly difficult circumstances […] under the supervision of a trained behavioral therapist.” The site also mentions that a trusted loved one can assist in the process of learning to feel comfortable using the restroom when others are around. A detailed list of steps for using graduated exposure therapy to improve or cure paruresis is available at the link to About.com above.

Photo Credit: ilmungo via Compfight cc

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Sophia August 12, 2015 at 5:44 pm

I’m a 22 year old woman, and I’ve had paruresis ever since I was 5 or 6. I know I’m not the only girl in the world who has it, but I still feel totally alone. It doesn’t help that us girls get very little to no help, support, or representation with this issue. For some reason, people just love to ignore us female paruretics and I’m sick of it. I’m sick of people telling me that my feelings about public bathrooms are “stupid” and “invalid” just because I’m a girl. I’m sick of people telling me that I have “nothing to complain about” because I’m “in a private stall” (uh, newsflash: it’s possible for people to see through the cracks in the stall door). I’m sick of people telling me that it’s stupid to feel embarrassed about being heard while urinating. Even I don’t know why I feel that way, but telling me that my feelings are stupid doesn’t help me get over it. At all.
I just want to get over this God forsaken phobia but, being a girl, I evidently have no right to feel the way I do and deserve to be ignored and brushed aside.

The only things I haven’t tried are moving to Japan (where they have “Sound Princesses” in women’s bathrooms), seeing a therapist, or reading “Bathrooms Make Me Nervous”. I can’t afford therapy, and I DEFINITELY don’t have enough money to move to another country, but I have enough money to buy a book, so I might give “Bathrooms Make Me Nervous” a try.


Faylinn June 27, 2016 at 9:15 am

I definitely have shy bladder syndrome, because I have a lot of anxiety about relieving myself in public restrooms. However, I never thought that this was a condition that should be treated, especially under that supervision of a trained behavioral therapist. I definitely think that I might go see a doctor about this, but I would definitely want to not take a therapist or a loved one into the bathroom with me.


James December 18, 2016 at 2:57 am

Im 20 years old, i hate my self, more than a years a suffer paruresis that recently i know because i really need a job but i failed to submit drug test because i cant going to pee thats why i go home and blame my self for this bullshit feelings, that night i research in the internet, then i already know its called paruresis ?? many years i think im the only one who suffer this feeling but im wrong, and i feel not weird at all when i know that ??


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