Living with Paruresis

Living With Paruresis & Overcoming Shy Bladder Syndrome

Living with paruresis can be a stressful burden on top of life's other daily challenges. The inability to urinate in the presence of other people, particularly in public restrooms, is a social anxiety condition rather than a medical condition. Phrases such as pee shyness or bashful bladder tend to belittle the impact it can have on people's lives. That's why the UK Paruresis Trust and its various support groups have come into existence: to help you take charge of your anxiety and become comfortable once more.

Ten steps to taking charge of paruresis


Start Taking Charge

Recognise there is something you can do to start taking charge of paruresis or shy bladder syndrome. You have already done this by finding this site. Starting to recognise there is a problem can be an anxious process, but in taking these first steps you will realise there are solutions to living with Paruresis.

Recognise You’re Not Alone

You are not the only one suffering from shy bladder syndrome aka paruresis. By visiting our UKPT forum you will find again and again that others claim they felt alone. Many felt they had no one to talk to or share his/her anxieties with. Well, no longer!

Understanding Your Anxiety

Understand that your shy bladder it is most likely to be an anxiety issue. Most professionals interested in this area consider Paruresis to be a specific social anxiety disorder; such as a fear of going into a lift, of flying, or of public speaking. It is an anxiety response to an irrational fear which stops you from doing things you would like to do; things that most people don’t find difficult.

You find excuses to avoid the situation that worries you, or excuses to not tell anyone in case they think you are weird or stupid. You put on a mask to disguise the person you really are and try to hide your responses.


Tell Someone Close To You

Telling someone (partner, best friend etc) might sound impossible but it works. Many people find this difficult to do, but once they have taken this first step in self-control they usually get a real sense of relief.

To be able to stop putting on the mask and allowing an honest relationship with someone you trust and/or love will really help you on your journey to coping with paruresis. Once you tell the people that need to know AND whom you trust, you will hopefully be pleasantly surprised at the amount of understanding and support they can offer.

For suggestions on how to tell someone visit Also see Breaking the silence barrier in Paruresis Stories.


Seek Medical Help & Advice

Consider going to your GP or medical centre to tell them about the problem. Ask the GP to refer you to a urologist for an examination to make sure that there are no contributory physical problems.

Not all medics understand about shy bladder syndrome so take some information from this website with you. Explain that they can get information through here from professionals who have researched and published on this topic in respectable journals.


Consider Speaking To A Social Anxiety Disorder Specialist

You can also ask your GP for a referral to see a clinical psychologist. That does not mean you are crazy, but the best help often comes from someone experienced in dealing with anxieties of all types. Professional therapists can help by taking you through the stages designed to help overcome your fears. You can of course go and see one privately. For help in finding a recognised psychologist you can visit the BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy)

Meet Other People With Paruresis

In time, meet other people who have paruresis. The best way is to attend a UKPT weekend workshop. This will help you to realise that your problems are not unique to you. It will be a big relief to meet people who understand from their own experience what you have been going through. The workshop will give you skills and experiences that will improve your ability to pee and your peace of mind.

Think Positively

Develop a “can do” attitude. Positive thinking is very important in helping to cope with Paruresis. One problem can often cause some people to start feeling negatively about themselves. In turn they get into a position where everything seems hopeless. They then feel totally helpless.

You again are now beyond that point by visiting this site! Keep on the process and start trying to feel confident about yourself in all situations.


Take Small Steps Towards A Long-term Goal

One of the things that you will learn from the professional therapists and the fellow Paruresis sufferers, is that a step by step approach called graduated de-sensitisation is one that often is the most successful in dealing with this type of anxiety.

If you take small steps towards a long-term goal you will find it easier to cope in the long run. You plan these steps or stages and practice coping with them a little at a time. You don’t move on until you feel comfortable at this stage and are then ready to take on the next stage. Practising exposure to the situation in very small steps, starting at a point you can cope with is called graduated de-sensitisation.

You can read up about it on the UKPT forum, and it is well described in Steve Soifer’s book, The Secret Social Phobia: Shy Bladder Syndrome. If you read the forum postings you will see there that people talk about de-sensing, using the desensitisation techniques described on the CBT for Paruresis page.


Attend Our UKPT Beginners Workshop

If you can, try to attend a Beginners Workshop. They are currently held four or more times a year over a weekend either in Reading or Manchester, whichever is most convenient for you. Or you can attend an online virtual day workshop.

See our upcoming UKPT beginners workshops listed on the website.

Also check our blog and follow us on Facebook,X (formerly known as Twitter), or Instagram for announcements.

The UK Paruresis Trust is pleased to publish its report of a survey into the effectiveness of UKPT workshops based on participants’ feedback and their subsequent progress in overcoming paruresis. Click here to download the PDF version.

Visit the CBT For Paruresis page to discover tried and tested therapeutic techniques you can try for coping with shy bladder syndrome.

Find the UK Paruresis Trust on Facebook
Follow the UK Paruresis Trust on Twitter/X
Follow the UK Paruresis Trust on YouTube
Follow us on Instagram
Registered with Fundraising Regulator
Community Fund
BMA Patient Information Awards Highly Commended 2019
Trusted Information Creator
Copyright © 2017 United Kingdom Paruresis Trust. All Rights Reserved.
Last review date: January 2023.
Next review date: January 2026.

UK Charity Registration Number 1109541
Privacy and Cookies Policy