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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

What is Shy Bladder?

Shy Bladder, Bashful Bladder, Stage-Fright : These are all terms used to describe a medical condition known as paruresis.

Whatever you call it the result is the same, an inability to urinate in public restrooms.

Nobody knows why people develop this, most of us arn't born this way. It's been suggested that the condition develops as a result of an incident (usually in a bathroom) that somehow trains the brain to see public bathrooms as a dangerous place. That could be some kind of trauma : sexual assualt, physical assault or mortifyingly embarrassing experience but it could also be simply the feedback loop of the brain.

Everybody experiences occasional "stage fright" and it may be that you experience it once, the next time you try to go you worry that the same will happen again - a self-fulfilling prophecy. A few more abortive attempts and you've trained your subconscious to believe that public restrooms are a source of danger and it amps up your adrenaline and clamps shut your sphincters.

It is estimated that Paruresis affects as many as one-in-seven adults, disproportionately men. In the USA that means that there are approximately 14 million men aged between 15-64 years of age who routinely have difficulty peeing; about the same number of people as the population of New York and London combined.

I started this blog to get two simple messages out : You are not alone and There is a cure.

It's early in 2006, I've been struggling with paruresis for years and I want this to be the year that I beat it. I plan to document my efforts, I hope it's useful to you too.

Useful links :

Getting Help

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