Phobia of Urinating in Public / Paruresis

Paruresis is a phobia of urinating in public or in the presence of someone else. It is not caused by a physical blockage that prevents urination, but it is the psychological fear of urinating without sufficient privacy that interferes with the process.

This disorder can affect an individual’s quality of life substantially, to the point that people who suffer begin altering their behavior to avoid the need to urinate in public situations. They may not attend public events or may monitor their fluid intake to lessen the need to urinate in uncomfortable situations.


People of any age can be affected by paruresis and it occurs as a result of psychological reasons. There is nothing physically wrong with the urinary tract and everything functions normally under normal conditions in privacy.

Often it is possible to identify a certain trigger point or situation which led to the fear of urinating in the presence of other people, although this is not always the case. Children may be subjected to teasing or harassment in public toilets, leading to symptoms of paruresis.


Difficulty in passing urine in public bathrooms is the main symptom related to paruresis, although there are other symptoms that may stem from this.

In particular, anxiety about using the bathroom in public can be problematic for some and may induce heart palpitations, sweating, dizziness and shaking. Additionally, it may cause people to alter their behavior by restricting fluid intake and avoid public events, which inhibits their quality of life and can pose possible health risks due to dehydration.

Diagnosis & Treatment

It is important to establish that the functionality of the urinary tract is normal and the problem is purely psychological before diagnosis with paruresis. If the individual can urinate normally in the privacy of their home but have difficulty in public, this is a good indication.

Psychotherapy can help patients to learn how to solve their problems through counseling and learning relaxation techniques. Graduated exposure therapy, which involves attempting to urinate in increasingly more difficult places, can help people to gain confidence and overcome paruresis.


Further Reading

Last Updated: Jan 3, 2023

Yolanda Smith

Written by

Yolanda Smith

Yolanda graduated with a Bachelor of Pharmacy at the University of South Australia and has experience working in both Australia and Italy. She is passionate about how medicine, diet and lifestyle affect our health and enjoys helping people understand this. In her spare time she loves to explore the world and learn about new cultures and languages.


Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Smith, Yolanda. (2023, January 03). Phobia of Urinating in Public / Paruresis. News-Medical. Retrieved on July 19, 2024 from

  • MLA

    Smith, Yolanda. "Phobia of Urinating in Public / Paruresis". News-Medical. 19 July 2024. <>.

  • Chicago

    Smith, Yolanda. "Phobia of Urinating in Public / Paruresis". News-Medical. (accessed July 19, 2024).

  • Harvard

    Smith, Yolanda. 2023. Phobia of Urinating in Public / Paruresis. News-Medical, viewed 19 July 2024,


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.