'Shy bladder syndrome must be one of the most secretive afflictions going'

Ian, 40, a musician from north-west England, has paruresis or shy bladder syndrom

I was always a bit worried about toilets - full of bullying and people smoking. When I started going out to pubs and clubs any trouble would usually kick off in the bogs. I used to look for a cubicle but then the bouncers would kick the door down thinking you were doing something else.

It got easier when I was in a band. It was much easier to piss as we had our own toilet back stage. Anyway, I was taking loads of stuff that tended to stop you wanting to pee, if you know what I mean!

I suppose the final straw was about three and a half years ago when I was on a ferry and couldn't go, even in a cubicle. I went to see my GP and he referred me to a psychologist. There was a long waiting list so I went private.

I had EMDR or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy. It's based on the idea that the disturbing thoughts or feelings following a trauma can be reduced by having you move your eyes rapidly while reflecting on the event.

EMDR had me in tears

After just a handful of questions from the therapist, I was in floods of tears. I realised just how much it had all affected me.

I had three or four sessions of EMDR and it helped a little. I also tried hypnosis and while that put me in a good mood I don't think it made much difference.

In the end, I plucked up the courage to go to a UKPT workshop — I'd been monitoring their website for months — and that made the difference.

Beforehand I was terrified. I wondered if they were a bunch of nutters. As I checked into the hotel I was trying to work out who else couldn't pee. But the week-end worked.

Afterwards I felt absolutely liberated. If someone had told me that after the workshop I'd have been able to pee with someone standing next to me I wouldn't have believed them.

This article reflects the experience of the individual. It is not health information from the MHF under the terms of the NHS England Information Standard. It was last updated in 2006. Up-to-date information on this topic can be found here: Paruresis FAQs.

Page created on February 21st, 2006

The Men’s Health Forum need your support

It’s tough for men to ask for help but if you don’t ask when you need it, things generally only get worse. Especially during a major pandemic like Covid-19. So we’re asking.

Men appear more likely to get Covid-19 and far, far more likely to die from it. The Men's Health Forum are working hard pushing for more action on this from government, from health professionals and from all of us. Why are men more affected and what can we do about it? We need the data. We need the research. We need the action. Currently we're the only UK charity doing this - please help us.

Here’s our fund-raising page - please chip in if you can.

Registered with the Fundraising Regulator