Vidhi holds a Masters in Education, B.A. in Spanish Literature from Rutgers University. Vidhi has experience working in academic affairs and staff management.
Also known as shy bladder syndrome, paruresis is a social anxiety disorder that causes fear of urination in public restrooms due to other people being around. Some people experience short, infrequent episodes of shyness related to urinating in public restrooms, but paruresis can be much more serious than that.
Let's look at two distinct cases: A young man named James is accustomed to living at home and then relocates to a college residence hall, where he shares a restroom with others living on his floor. He may experience shyness the first few times he uses the bathroom but then eventually gets used to it. This is normal.
James's experience is different from that of someone who has paruresis. For example, let's look at a young woman named Jill, who is on a plane ride lasting ten hours. Leading up to those ten hours, Jill does not have any beverages just so she won't have to urinate in the plane's restroom. She refuses all beverages on the flight, and only lets herself into a bathroom when she arrives at her private hotel room. This is a case of paruresis.
Some people who suffer from paruresis cope by either holding their urine or by avoiding drinking fluids. Both are dangerous options. Those who repeatedly hold their urine are prone to bladder infections, which can spread to the kidneys, causing more harm than good. Avoiding fluids has negative impacts as well - dehydration can occur if a paruresis sufferer avoids fluids for a prolonged period of time.
There are a number of safer options to cope with paruresis:
- Individual counseling or support groups: Sufferers can discuss their problem with a trained professional or with others who have similar issues, thereby making sufferers feel less alone and more comfortable.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT teaches patients how to work with thoughts and feelings in order to regain control of their urination. Specifically for paruresis sufferers, CBT teaches how to work with the social anxiety in order to be able to urinate in public restrooms.
- Urinary catheterization: Urinary catheterization is when a tube is inserted into the bladder through the urethra in order to allow urine to drain freely. This is commonly done in hospitals by trained medical professionals, but in order to self-catheterize, patients should speak with doctors first. Once sufferers of paruresis learn to self-catheterize, they can safely do the procedure themselves, even in public restrooms. This option requires the utmost attention to cleanliness and safety.
- Breath-holding technique: Dr. Monroe Weil discovered this option for paruresis sufferers. This is another option that needs to be discussed with a doctor prior to attempting. Breath-holding works for those who can urinate comfortably once the stream has started, but it may not work as well for those who are uncomfortable maintaining the stream. This technique involves holding the breath for seconds before the pelvic muscles relax and the bladder is emptied. Due to the sensitive nature of this technique, safety precautions are imperative.
Causes of paruresis can be psychological or biological. An example of a psychological factor would be if Jill was bullied in the bathroom at her grade school, causing her to develop a fear of public restrooms. Biological factors can be issues with urethra size or prostrate issues - these require medical attention. Preexisting anxiety disorders can be the cause of paruresis as well, since it is a social anxiety disorder.
Due to the nature of our society and the importance of traveling and using public restrooms whether at school or work, treatment of paruresis should be sought out in order to decrease anxiety for the common, necessary action of urination.
Once you are finished, you should be able to:
- Explain what paruresis is and differentiate it from normal anxiety
- Describe how people suffering from paruresis often cope with the disorder and the negative effects of these methods
- Discuss safer treatment options
- State some of the causes of paruresis
To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account
Register to view this lesson
Unlock Your Education
See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com
Become a Study.com member and start learning now.Become a Member
Already a member? Log InBack