Urology Austin

Paruresis or Shy Bladder Syndrome

shy bladder

Paruresis, also known as shy bladder, is considered a phobia in which individuals are unable to urinate around other people. Typically, this occurs in venues such as public restrooms, in office restrooms shared with co-workers, during social events, travel, or even in an individual’s home. Shy bladder affects both males and females in all age groups – from adolescence to adulthood. In the United States, it is estimated that 20+ million Americans are affected by paruresis.

What causes shy bladder?

Individuals who struggle with shy bladder experience an intense dread when having to urinate around others. When another person enters a public restroom, the individual may not be able to initiate urination in fear that someone may be listening. It is thought that the anxiety associated with paruresis may cause the muscles that aid urination to tighten, restricting urine flow. This restraining of urine may be considered a type of urinary retention. However, true urinary retention is caused by a physical blockage that requires immediate medical attention. Persons with paruresis may also experience anxiety related symptoms such as sweating, increased heart rate, shaking, and feeling light-headed.

There is not one specific reason why individuals develop shy bladder. Some research has suggested that this concern may stem from past embarrassments by parents, acquaintances, unpleasant encounters in public restrooms, or sexual abuse.

Treatment options for paruresis

Oftentimes, persons with shy bladder may try to remedy this condition without medical attention. Coping behaviors may include avoiding public restrooms, urinating in private as much as possible (at home), restricting fluid intake, passing on social engagements, and avoiding personal or business travel.

In reality, individuals should seek medical attention from a urologist. A urologist will be able to assess the persons overall physical condition, discuss the occurrences of shy bladder, suggest voiding behavioral changes, and determine if medical interventions are required (prescriptions medications or possible catheterization). Urologists may also be able to refer the patient to a provider who specializes in anxiety disorders if necessary.

If you have been experiencing symptoms associated with this condition, contact Urology Austin to schedule an appointment with one of our providers.

Related link

International Paruresis Association