What is Paruresis?

Paruresis, often called "shy bladder" syndrome, is when you have trouble urinating when other people are around. Depending on how serious it is, some people are not able to void without some or total privacy. In some ways it is like urinary retention, where you "cannot go." But the key difference is that shy bladder is not caused by a physical blockage.

Shy bladder can change your quality of life in many ways, causing problems with:

  • work issues (getting a urine sample for drug testing)
  • traveling on long plane rides
  • everyday social situations

How Common is Shy Bladder Syndrome?

While there is no way to know how many people have problems voiding in public, surveys in the last few decades show that less than 1 to more than 25 of 100 Americans could have shy bladder. But it is not clear how much of this fear is about trouble voiding in public bathrooms.