Are you suffering with ‘pee shyness’?

Aug 18, 2021Anxiety, Counselling, Hypnotherapy Information and Advice

Are you suffering with ‘pee shyness’?

Male and female with shy bladder syndrome

If you get nervous or embarrassed about having a pee you might be suffering from a toilet phobia; a type of social anxiety. It’s about those negative feelings when you are going to use a public toilet or a toilet in other people’s homes.

We know that pee shyness is about privacy, people around you, and anxious thoughts.

If you feel worried about urinating in public places you could be suffering from Paruresis, also known as shy bladder syndrome, or bashful bladder.

This condition feels much worse if you are in a situation where someone might be watching you have a pee or where someone might hear you pee.

Paruresis or feeling ‘pee-shy’ is something most people don’t talk about and is a common problem but also a neglected area because it seems trivial to talk about and you learn ways to avoid wanting to use public toilets.

As with many anxiety-related conditions some people have hesitancy when visiting a public toilet while other people are at the other end of the scale and have a phobia when they feel very anxious and will do everything to avoid peeing in public.

If you have mild pee shyness or a phobic response the problem is that this condition can affect your social, personal and work life.

Furthermore, it could have an impact on your relationships through your worrying and behaviours, the quality of your life and your health if you are restricting fluids.

What causes paruresis?

Often it’s not clear where the problem started.

It could be related to:

  • Difficulties potty training as a child.
  • Something that was said to you when you were in an emotional state related to toilets and peeing. Maybe another child made fun of you when you were in the toilet at school.
  • A traumatic experience such as abuse
  • A previous medical problem related to urinating, for example, a bladder infection
  • A genetic predisposition to anxiety

Dealing with pee shyness

Pee-shy manFirstly, you need to rule out any infections or physical reasons why you have difficulty peeing in public places so having a chat with your doctor is a good idea.

Don’t be embarrassed to talk to your doctor as they know about the difficulties some people have peeing.



Some people try self-help techniques. For example, some people may drink less, others plan outings so they don’t need to take too much time away from the comfort of their own toilet, while other people have a sequence of going to the toilet just before they leave.

Everyone with pee shyness worries about needing the toilet when they are out.

Self-help techniques may also include noting how your bladder feels when it is full and you might even measure your urine to find out how much your bladder holds. It’s about becoming aware of your body when you are not in stressful situations. This can then give you the comfort to know that your bladder is able to hold a lot of pee and you don’t need to keep worrying about public toilets.

Some people flush the toilet before starting as they don’t like to hear their own pee hitting the pan. This might help.

Some people may also have their earphones on and music playing when they enter the toilet area. This will be a distraction technique.

But self-help is often easier said than done!

The problem is that the more you keep thinking about peeing in public places then the more you worry and you get caught up in a vicious cycle of negative thoughts and avoidance behaviours.

Learn about paruresis

One of the first things that help in understanding the condition is psychoeducation along with a few ways you can stop it. Did you know that the difficulty you feel peeing when going to a public toilet is because a sphincter muscle in your urinary system closes due to anxiety and you can’t go even though you feel that you are bursting to pee. These things and more can be explained.

It is possible to go to group sessions where you can gather information about why you feel shy about peeing in public places and you can meet others with the same problem. The UK Paruresis Trust has lots of information.

Counselling – CBT

If the condition persists that getting specific help from a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist (CBT) can help. During these counselling sessions, you discuss the problem, how it specifically makes you feel and behave and find ways to change the cycle of avoidance and worry.

You may also need help to understand your emotions to build your confidence and self-esteem.

Paruresis can also be helped through graduated exposure therapy where you gradually learn to use public toilets.

The idea is to reduce your anxiety and help you explore and understand your thoughts, feelings and behaviours.


Hypnotherapy can help you stop feeling shy about peeing in public places. There is lots of evidence that hypnosis helps anxiety however no large scale studies were found specifically related to paruresis. Nevertheless, some people say that hypnosis helps.

Hypnosis helps people to relax and to let go of emotions that are stopping them from getting on with their life. A technique called systematic desensitization may be used to help the person mentally get exposure to toilet situations where they can learn to feel relaxed. It can also help people to imagine a positive future by using positive suggestions.


Some doctors may prescribe medication to help with your anxiety.

Finally, if you are suffering from pee shyness you have several ways you can get help. Learn how to change

Linda at Awaken the Change provides hypnotherapy and counselling to help you rid yourself of the problem. Contact Linda today for a free initial consultation.






Awaken the Change is about Focusing Minds for Positive Results

Awaken the Change is a self-help service providing education and information.

Linda sees clients at her practice in Bournemouth, in the UK. She is also happy to provide online help via webcam for hypnotherapy, counselling and supervision. Counselling and supervision can also be provided by telephone.

Linda is an accredited trainer and supervisor.

Linda Witchell
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