Shy bladder is a non-medical, descriptive term for paruresis. It is also known as bashful bladder syndrome. The name Shy Bladder Syndrome describes the failure of the body to relax certain muscles that will allow urine to be passed. Thus, the phrase shy bladder has been coined as it gives the impression that the bladder is too shy and won’t (let the urine) come out. This could happen as a one off if the sufferer experiences an unusual trigger event or it could be so severe that the person suffering from shy bladder syndrome is unable to let go even in their own home.
What actually happens is rather complex involving psychology and physiology. For example, let’s take a fictional man called Bob who has a mild attack of shy bladder syndrome. Bob is bursting for a pee and goes to a public restroom. At this moment the toilet is empty and he happily approaches the urinals to relieve himself. Just as he is about to do so, another couple of guys enter the restroom to relieve themselves too, chatting to each other as they approach the urinals, taking no notice of Bob. But for some reason, consciously
Let’s assume that the above scenario was fictional Bob’s first experience of shy bladder syndrome, his story could lead him down a couple of paths from this point on in his life:or subconsciously, Bob becomes overpowered by a strange feeling. He becomes a bit tense and feels uncomfortable about the other men being near him when he’s about to urinate. The strange feelings of anxiety and rush of adrenaline overpowers the want and need for the internal sphincter around the base of the bladder to relax. Standing there waiting for the pee to come, nothing happens. His body simply will not allow it to happen, which is the physiological response by the body to the psychological goings on in Bob’s head.
This first path would be the preferred path. The shy bladder episode was totally a one off, forgotten about and never to be repeated again. In this instance, Bob, our fictional character can carry on having a normal life and go out socializing, go to concerts, parities and all the rest.
The next path is not so good. Because our imaginary guy had an unpleasant and troubling experience, the next time he finds himself in the same situation, needing to go to a public restroom to urinate, he remembers the shy bladder episode and worries about it happening again. To avoid another embarrassing incident and gripped by a mild case of anxiety, he heads to the stalls to urinate if there is any sign of another person in the toilet. He does his best to go out and have a life but there are always niggles in the back of his mind about having to use a public restroom.
The final path is one a terrible one. It is one where shy bladder syndrome has almost taken control of nearly everything that our poor fictional guy, Bob, does. That first experience was the trigger. The emotional scarring will stay with him with the rest of his life unless he gets help in the form of graduated exposure therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. Bob, if he took this path, not that he would have a choice, would not have a rich and full life. He would be passing up invitations to go places, do things and see things that his friends and family are taking for granted. If he did venture out, he would be worrying about needing to use a public restroom. He would be worrying about how busy they are, how much fluid he is taking on board and if he can’t go to a toilet for the fear gripping him, he will be putting his health at risk too.
If you suffer from Shy Bladder syndrome yourself and you recognize these symptoms of the problem and can relate to them, you are not alone. There are tens of millions of sufferers out there and the problem is become more recognized and accepted as a real problem.
Help is available. There is a system called The Paruresis Treatment System that covers both the cognitive behavioral therapy and the exposure therapy sides. It was developed with people suffering from a shy bladder in mind and is a program that you can follow at your own pace.
It’s time to take back your right to a fuller life. Act now and take the first small step to a better, brighter future without the gripping anxieties of shy bladder syndrome.
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