The Scientific Reason Behind Why Some People Have a Shy Bladder

You’re not alone in this.

shy-bladderNoophoto/ShutterstockHave you ever been hanging out at a friend’s house and tried going to the bathroom—but tense up and can’t, since you know they’re right outside and can maybe hear you? Or, have you been asked by a friend to wait outside the bathroom at a public place because they have a shy bladder? If this happens to you or your friend, don’t worry. You’re not just making it all up— it’s actually a real medical condition. Here’s what else your bladder secretly wants to tell you.

The official name is paruresis, but it’s commonly called shy or bashful bladder. Essentially, for those who have this condition, going to the restroom causes your sphincter muscles to lock up. The sphincter muscles control the flow of urine from your bladder, so when they lock up it makes it impossible to pee.

Paruresis has nothing to do with the well-being of your urinary system; it’s actually a social anxiety disorder.  It can happen in public restrooms, at a friend’s house, and even in your own home if you know that others are around. Have the opposite problem and can’t stop peeing? Here are some medical reasons why that might be happening.

If you suffer from a shy bladder, you’re definitely not alone. About 20 million Americans have this problem and almost 90 percent of them are men. So make sure you locate that individual bathroom while you’re out in public. Or, maybe just use the restroom before you leave your house. (But make sure that you’re not forcing yourself to go to the bathroom “just in case.” It can be bad for your health.)

[Source: WebMD]

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Morgan Cutolo
Morgan is an Associate Editor at Reader’s Digest. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2016 where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. She writes for, helps lead the editorial relationship with our partners, manages our year-round interns, and keeps the hundreds of pieces of content our team produces every month organized. In her free time, she likes exploring the seacoast of Maine where she lives and works remotely full time and snuggling up on the couch with her corgi, Eggo, to watch HGTV or The Office.