Too Bashful To Pee: Dealing with Shy Bladder Syndrome (Paruresis)
HOW MANY OF US as adults have had the experience when at a ballgame momentarily “forgetting” how to urinate standing next to a row of other fans at a “trough” urinal? Or feeling the pressure of a line behind you to use the urinal or stall and then finding that the more you want to urinate the more unable you are to actually do it? Have you had the experience, after having undergone a diagnostic or surgical procedure, that for a while you couldn’t quite remember how to pee? These are quite common experiences of what some have termed “pee panic” or “pee amnesia”. Imagine not being able to urinate in public-no matter how much you may want to – not just momentarily but all of the time. Think how restrictive it would be on your life, how difficult it would be to take a plane flight, go to a concert, go to a bar with friends, maybe even have a romantic relationship.
Shy Bladder Syndrome (Paruresis)
Shy Bladder Syndrome or Bashful Bladder Syndrome (technical term: Paruresis) is the term for that life restricting difficulty. People with Shy Bladder Syndrome often cannot urinate when other people are close by. Often people feel intense shame and humiliation over not being able to be able to urinate in public. People who struggle with this have to carefully plan their excursions out of the house in order to use restrooms that are rarely used by others. Some individuals arrange their days to NEVER have to urinate in public- they are able to urinate only in the safety of their own homes. Life can become very restricted for the 21 million Americans (7% of adults) who are estimated to suffer from Paruresis.
At the Cognitive Behavior Therapy Center of Southern California, we can help with this condition. Just like with other anxiety problems, you can learn, at your own pace, to face your fears and recover the ability to urinate in public restrooms and live fully. Do you have Shy Bladder Syndrome?
Take the Paruresis Test below to find out.
- Have difficulty urinating when other people are, or might be, nearby?
- Find that you are afraid that others might notice if you have trouble voiding?
- Find that you are afraid that others might make fun of your difficulty in urinating?
- Tend to avoid using public restrooms if others are in the restroom?
- Tend to avoid frequently trafficked public restrooms?
- Tend to avoid long trips by plane, boat, train, bus, or car due to this difficulty?
- Restrict the amount of liquid you drink to reduce the production of urine?
- Tend to avoid drinking alcohol, tea, or coffee for the same reason?
- Turn down jobs because the work restrooms are too exposed and not private enough?
- Find that this difficulty interferes with your friendship and/or romantic relationships?
- Experience significant shame and humiliation having this problem?
If you have answered many of the above questions with “yes”, then you might be suffering from Paruresis. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been shown to help people with Shy Bladder Syndrome learn to be able to urinate more freely and confidently in public restrooms and to increase the sense of freedom to live one’s life.
Contact Us and let us help you live a life of freedom!
Author Dr. Rodney Boone is the Founder and Director of CBT SoCal, has taught as a former member of the faculty in UCLA’s Department of Psychiatry, and practices in Glendale and Torrance, CA.