To pee or not to pee

Paruresis, also known as 'shy bladder syndrome', is a fairly common issue which can affect around 14% of the population. For some people, it can be a one-off incident where they may find it difficult to urinate in the presence of others but for some sufferers, it can become a phobia that affects their everyday life. 


Relieving oneself in a public restroom can be a challenge regardless of whether the presence of others is real or imaginary. 

Many people assume the condition is entirely a psychological one brought on by embarrassment at being heard, of accidentally passing wind and of fear of being judged or humiliated. However, it is listed in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) of Mental Disorders and recognised as a condition. 

It was initially construed as a refusal when asked to provide a urine sample to test for drugs in certain work settings or prison, but it is now seen as a valid excuse when accompanied with a proven medical background stating paruresis as the cause. In these cases, a blood sample or hair specimen can be obtained instead.

Paruresis sufferers go as far as not being able to relieve themselves anywhere except in the safety of their own homes. This can obviously have an impact on their daily lives, unable to go far or enjoy social experiences for fear of ‘needing to go.’

Possible causes

There are several reasons why someone could become affected by this condition:

  • a urinary tract infection (UTI) such as cystitis
  • urinary dysfunction caused by an ill-fitting catheter
  • undergoing a voiding cystourethrography - an examination done by inserting a catheter and filling the bladder with a contrasting dye to enable the clinician to capture images of the bladder/kidneys etc.
  • an enlarged prostate in men can obstruct the urinary channel from evacuating their bladder
  • in rare cases, a tumour on the bladder can prevent the passing of urine
  • survivors of forced trauma to the body, which has damaged internal workings
  • severe dehydration
  • being humiliated or having an ‘accident’ could have a lasting impact

How can hypnotherapy resolve this issue?

Due to a sympathetic nervous system response to paruresis, the sphincter (bladder neck) tightens preventing the urine from flowing freely. This is caused by an adrenaline rush which produces an involuntary response to the surrounding muscle areas. 

Hypnotherapy can help by tapping into the subconscious mind and through guided meditation can encourage the muscles to relax and the mind to stay calm. If the cause is psychological then the hypnotherapist will address the issues causing the phobia.

During hypnotherapy sessions, the therapist will address any other underlying issues relating to this problem such as low self-esteem, self-consciousness and lack of confidence. This belt and braces approach will ensure the sufferer can confidently enjoy their day without fear of doing what is a natural bodily function. 

Parcopresis - the inability to defecate in a public restroom - is a phobia which can be managed and overcome successfully using hypnotherapy.

Should you require help with any of the above then get in touch with a hypnotherapist that has experience in helping people with these issues.

“When you cast doubt on some bodily function - you don’t know how sensitive the body is to that kind of idea," - Ina May Gaskin.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Hypnotherapy Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Glasgow G2 & London W1H
Written by Biodun Ogunyemi, Certified Master Hypnotherapist ANLP,BNLP,SNLP,C.H,Dip.Hyp
Glasgow G2 & London W1H

Biodun Ogunyemi is the founder of Optimind, one of the leading hypnotherapy practices within the UK.
He has practised on Harley Street and is an experienced hypnotherapist, trained to the highest level in advanced hypnotherapy and NLP and is the author of over 180 hypnosis products.

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