Paruresis: Are you dying for a pee?
Ever been standing at a public urinal and found you couldn't do the necessary? Well, you're not the only one.
The condition is common enough to have its own medical name — paruresis - which, typically, tells you nothing at all about the problem. It's also known as 'shy bladder syndrome' which is a bit more user-friendly.
Andrew Smith who is chair of the UK Paruresis Trust reckons there are probably three types of blokes with paruresis:
- those who can't piss in a urinal but can use a cubicle
- those who have difficulty in a cubicle, but are usually OK at home
- those who have difficulty even at home when other people are around.
'Paruresis is a social anxiety disorder which makes the individual physically incapable of passing urine in certain situations,' says Andrew. 'It is usually about a lack of a certain level of privacy. The individual has no voluntary control over the matter. It is the nervous system that cuts off the ability to urinate.'
Is there a cure?
The good news is that the UK Paruresis Trust have found a treatment that appears to work. Their workshops are not a cure but can make all the difference. Their website — ukpt.org.uk - includes details of the workshops, more on the condition and a discussion board for chatting with others with the same condition.
What can be done to help people with the problem?
Andrew Smith says: 'There is a need for all health professionals - but GPs, urologists and clinical psychologists in particular - to be aware of paruresis, its impact on the individual, and the recommended therapy.'
He points out that standards for public toilets could be improved to give more room and privacy at urinals. 'This would benefit not only those with paruresis, but also about a third of the male population that dislikes cramped and open facilities.'
A growing problems is drug-testing which is increasingly used by employers and others. 'Drug testing procedures should allow people to choose between urine testing and other methods such as saliva testing,' says Andrew.
'For 35 years I couldn't pee in a urinal' David, IT consultant
'Shy bladder syndrome must be one of the most secretive afflictions going' Ian, music producer
Page created on February 21st, 2006
Page updated on January 14th, 2010