Pee-shy? It can be a shy bladder syndrome

Shy Bladder Syndrome (SBS) often known as paruresis 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." It is commonly seen in both women and men and without treatment; it can affect your personal, social, and professional life, say doctors

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Paruresis or shy bladder is a syndrome with many different names, and while it may sound silly, it is real. Bashful bladder, pee-shy, bathroom phobia; no matter what term is used by the person who has the syndrome, the bottom line is that it can be very frustrating to live with.

Dr Vatsala Trivedi, Consultant urologist at SL Raheja, Kohinoor and Dr LH Hiranandani Hospital said, “SBS results from fear or anxiety of urinating around others or in public restrooms. People with SBS can urinate freely alone at home but not in public settings. SBS is considered a type of phobia, or excessive fear of a particular thing, activity, or situation. It is due to trauma caused in childhood or the condition is also considered a social anxiety disorder.”

She added, “SBS is typically caused by anxiety surrounding the idea of urinating in a setting where other people may be able to hear or see. Concerns that others may hear urination and judge the amount, consistency, or duration of urine flow and worry that being able to hear urination is uncomfortable or awkward.”

Dr Niranjan Chavan, Professor, Gynaecology Department at LTMG (Sion) Hospital said, “The bladder relies on a signal from the brain to relax and empty itself. The anxious feelings related to SBS cause the brain to send a signal to the bladder to contract rather than release. So, when people go to parties, social functions or at any public places we try to control our urge to urinate. A concern that others may notice and judge how often urination occurs. Especially, it becomes awkward for the ladies. Due to the fear of frequent urination, people also avoid drinking fluids.”

Without treatment, it can affect your personal, social, and professional life, say doctors. You might find it hard to be away from home for more than a short time. You could end up avoiding parties, sporting events, and dates informed doctors.

Speaking to My Medical Mantra, Aarya Thackeray, a 22-year-old from Mahim said, “I am embarrassed to use washroom when I am at any social gathering, party or while travelling. But I haven’t consulted any doctor regarding this, as I am shy.”

Dr Trivedi explained, “People don’t consult the urologist as they are shy and embarrassed. But SBS can be cured by treatment. Counselling, behavioural therapy and self-catheterisation and psychotherapy can be advised.”