Thursday, August 10, 2006

Pee Shy

Hello everyone. My name is Dop. And I have paruresis.

Whew! It feels good to admit it out loud. Well, sorta out loud. At least it's out there (no pun intended). I am not sure when it happened really, but somewhere in my adult life I became unable to unrinate when in the presence of another person, save with whomever I am in a relationship (that's when I know I have achieved a level of comfort with my partner. Some guys mark this time by farting in front of each other without thinking about it -- I pee.)

Paruresis is the medical term for "shy bladder syndrome", a social anxiety disorder in which a person is unable to urinate in a public restroom. According to a 1997 Harvard University study, approximately 17 million Americans suffer from this phobia. It affects about one to two million Americans so significantly that it impairs their lives and forces them to seek treatment. There is actually a non-profit organization located in Baltimore that provides information and resources to those afflicted with this problem.

It can be a crippling nightmare to be out in public and have to urinate, but unable to do so. Perhaps it is performance anxiety of some kind; perhaps it is the proximity of so many penises all at once; perhaps its because I think bathroom functions are just very private matters and are not to be shared with anyone, specifically strangers. Whatever the reason my psyche has chosen, I simply can't pee in public. Psychology says that in people who suffer from paruresis, the body senses the public restroom as an unsafe place. Adrenaline starts pumping as it would in a "fight or flight" situation. The result is that the part of the body that controls urination (the parasympathetic nervous system) is temporarily inhibited or suppressed.

More frustrating are those times when I am at the urinal, struggling for things to happen, concentrating even, and someone walks up to the urinal beside me and just lets go a gusher like its his job. It is the only time in my life when I actually experience penis envy. Why can't my penis behave the same way?? And to drive the nail even further into my coffin, these other men (could be strangers or someone I know) will just begin talking to me as if we are both standing in a lunch line or waiting for the next "L" train. And I marvel at how they can do this; not only can they just let go with the yellow flow, but they can talk to another person while doing so. I stand in awe (and standing in a men's room with your mouth open is not a good look).

Sometimes using a stall instead of a urinal will help. But only sometimes - for when I hear other voices, it becomes increasingly difficult to function. I can be in an empty restroom and going through the process just fine, and then stop in mid-stream when I hear the restroom door open. Sometimes, just the idea of another person being around me while I am peeing is enough to keep me from doing just that.

So onward I trek on my journey to relieve myself (ok, I meant that pun). Perhaps one day, the problem will just disappear and I will be able to pee like a normal person. But then, this is ME we are talking about ......


  1. i'm honored. really, i am.

  2. Dop, funny that you mention this subject because I was just talking to some friends about this last night. Luckily, I don't normally have this issue, but occassionally I will be hit by it. My partner on the other hand has an issue with it when we go into public restrooms. Normally for him, going into the stall is good enough. If there is no stall available and we are together, I try to help by giving him the end urinal and taking the one next to him. Since he feels comfortable peeing around me he seems to be able to pee okay then. Maybe you and KB should try that...:-)

  3. I have this problem! In spades! I can't go out anymore because of it! Is there a convenient pill for it, something they advertise on TV, with say Tommy Smothers, saying, "Are you one of those men who can't, you know, tinkle in public? Well, there's hope!" I used to try using a stall in hopes of getting a good piss, but one time I tried it and made the mistake of looking around and found my bodybuilder stud friend whom I was in love with (who didn't know, presumably) looking over the stall wall at me trying to piss, and smirking at my small dick! Well, that was the end of my bar-hopping days right there! That bastard.

  4. i can't say i'm pee shy, but i do find it incredibly disconcerting when guys at work start chit chatting at the urinals; this isn't a bar fellas.

  5. Hello DOP, we support you.

    I suffer to form shy bladder. Usually a stall will do the trick, but sometimes when I feel as though I'm at a urinal too long, and there's other people around.

    I fake that I went and leave.

    Yet, I can undress and do unmentionables with various and assorted mens.

    go figure.

  6. I must admit that I have "faked it" too.... *sigh*

    The cruelest thing in the world are giant men's rooms where the urinals have NO dividers..... and you REALLY have to go.

    No, wait, crueler than that are the bathrooms with the trough urinals and the stalls that DO NOT have doors and you're at your first Orioles game ever and you had several beers and you really gotta go and the line is long and you JUST CAN'T....

    I'm scarred.

  7. I hear ya! The same phobia runs through every vain of my body! Not being full of myself, but I know I have nothing to be ashamed of 'down under' ([Cherry]Ride will be able to vouch for that) but seriously...I HATE urinals!! Stage fright takes over! I actually HATE public bathrooms full stop! I will queue for a stall even when there are all urinals free! (and no, its not an Aussie issue!) There is something inherintly spooky about someone striking up a conversation whilst mid pee! YUK!
    PS. I really like your blog, Dop! Informative and funny, and straight through the shit (so to speak) like us Aussies! I will be reading daily!

  8. Wow. Can't say I ever had this problem. Actually one of my first BFs was a bit surprised when I sat down to shit next to him while he was brushing his teeth after a 'session'. I didn't understand then why he was so shocked.

    So I guess "Watersports" is out of the question with you, huh?

  9. Same problem for has gotten much better as I have gotten older.

  10. I can never use the "man trough"

    Try doing math problems in your head (don't use your fingers to count you'll make a mess)

  11. I'm with ya, Dop. If the mid-stream thing happens when someone walks in, I count backwards from 100 to 1. Usually by 70 I can restart.

    Wow. I don't think I needed to share that.

    Oh well.

  12. Hello,

    I'm a 22yr old guy from the UK and i have this exact problem. I cannot do the toilet when theres anyone in the bathroom except in a stall.

    However in the local pubs and clubs theres often only one stall that is always occupied and i feel stupid waiting to use it.

    I can go fine in a stall if others are at the wall urinals but i freeze if i'm at the urinals and someone walks in.

    I avoid going out to local pubs and clubs with my mates because im afraid to tell them, can i go to my doctor for advice? i feel they would say it's just in my head and it probably is but how do i overcome it.

    Anyway i'm missing out on so much, i don't go out on fridays and saturdays now due to the problem and i feel like i'll never meet anyone if i don't go out. But i end up trying not to go to the bathroom at all during a night out.

  13. I am 22 and in the UK too and I have the same problem as Dop!

    I am lucky at work, because there are 3 levels of gents' loos, all with 2 stalls, and it's mainly a female-orientated workplace... if I go in one and there is another guy in there, I head straight to the sink, wash my hands quickly, dry and leave then run up/down the stairs to the next one. I have a one in three chance of finding an empty one and once I do, I can go freely. Different people on different levels, so little chance of running into the same person if they see me in a different loo. However, should a colleague walk in and I hear the door open, I will just freeze mid-stream. It then becomes awkward as I can hear them peeing freely at a urinal, whilst I'm stuck in a stall with my wang out, making no noise. So I wait until they are finished, wash and dry their hands and leave and then I can pick up where I left off until I am relieved!

    My friends don't know either, they have all urinated together at school, etc. whilst I gained a reputation for 'being some kind of half man/half machine' as I never 'needed to go' (truth is, having last gone at 8am, by 1pm, I was ready to relieve myself but had to hold on until 4pm when I was at home!).

    Pubs/clubs are awkward, I try and drink as little as possible before I go and as little as possible whilst I am there, and can normally wait 4 to 5 hours until I get home! The worst is 'days out', as I just can't hold it for 8 hours anymore without breaking out into a sweat yet it's almost an impossibility to find an empty public toilet on a day out, so I try the disabled and then panic in there in case there's actually someone with a *real* disability not just some psychological condition that stops him peeing like a normal person, so can't go in there either. So I stop drinking too much before any journey/day out and then only sip as little as possible throughout the day to try and make it as long as possible.

    I'm pretty much fine in front of my family and friends at home or their houses, but anywhere else is a difficulty. I asked someone to ask the doctor on my behalf and he dismissively said it's a common issue and that chances are, I'd grow out of it. Well it's been about 12 years that I can remember not being able to use a urinal, and in the past four or so, harder to use a stall in public, and I'm still waiting to grow out of it. I don't *think* I have any penis size anxiety issues, cause well, there's not much I can do about it either way, and people can't see it if I'm in a cubicle anyway, so I'm completely baffled as to why this affects me!