What is shy bladder, what are its causes and how to deal with it

Health, according to the World Health Organization, is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”.[1] A variety of definitions have been used for different purposes over time. Health can be promoted by encouraging healthful activities, such as regular physical exercise and adequate sleep,[2] and by reducing or avoiding unhealthful activities or situations, such as smoking or excessive stress. Some factors affecting health are due to individual choices, such as whether to engage in a high-risk behavior, while others are due to structural causes, such as whether the society is arranged in a way that makes it easier or harder for people to get necessary healthcare services. Still other factors are beyond both individual and group choices, such as genetic disorders.

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Ever heard of shy bladder? It’s a condition in which people fear urinating in any other loo, apart from the ones at their home! Come found out more.

Have you found yourself rushing to a public loo when you feel that sudden urge to urinate? You may be wondering why is this even a question, right? That’s because there are a lot of people who cannot pass urine when they aren’t comfortable. This also has a name — shy bladder, and is also called paruresis. Being near other people causes sphincter muscles to lock up, which then makes it difficult to urinate.

Dr Samit Chaturvedi, Principal Consultant Urology, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Saket tells HealthShots, “When you are not able to urinate for very long or when you want to pass urine but you cannot because you may not have the right environment… That’s what we call a shy bladder.”

Shy bladder
Do you also find it difficult or impossible to urinate (pee) when other people are around? Image courtesy: Shutterstock

If it doesn’t get treated, it may affect your social and professional life. That’s because you may not be able to be outside for long, and would need a loo at home for comfort.

What are the causes of shy bladder?

“Normally, it is related to stress and trauma in the past. This mainly includes people who are highly anxious or stressed, or who have some emotional trauma in the past. They find it difficult to urinate when there are people around,” says Dr Chaturvedi.

There could be various instances that can be the cause behind this condition. As a child, your parents may have made fun of you during potty training, or it could also be that you may have suffered sexual abuse in the restroom.

Are there any shy bladder symptoms that show up?

Yes, there are. These are some things you must watch out for:

  • You will not be able to urinate in public;
  • You avoid social situations like travel or work opportunities due to the fear of having to urinate in public;
  • You may withhold urinating if there is too much noise around.

“All in all, it happens when you are not comfortable and there is too much happening around and you are not comfortable in your space. Mostly, it is related to anxiety, and a disturbed state of emotions,” explains Dr Chaturvedi.

shy bladder
There are many health risks of holding your pee that you must be aware of. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

This is another form of performance anxiety; the more you try and force it, the more your body will not cooperate.

How can one deal with shy bladder?

Our expert has a piece of advice, “When a kid is growing up, at toilet training age, you need to give them space, give them time and teach them how to urinate properly. It should not lead to physiological trauma that stays for long.”

Also, read: Are you urinating frequently? Let’s find out how often should you be peeing

They could also drink less fluid to avoid having to urinate as much. As parents, you can teach them relaxation techniques, so that when they are trying to pass urine in such an environment, they can relieve themselves.

“If the condition becomes too difficult to handle, you could have problems like working for long hours. You can’t use the loo, you can’t travel for long distances because you can’t go and relieve yourself. Kidneys can get severely affected if you are holding urine for long hours,” concludes Dr Chaturvedi.

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