What Is “Shy Bladder” in Drug Testing?

You’ve peed in public restrooms thousands of times before. So, letting go of your bladder is something that comes naturally. You start peeing as soon as you sit on the toilet or stand in front of the toilet bowl.

But getting a urine sample for a medical or drug test might make you doubt your ability to pee. Shy bladder is a syndrome that affects around 7% of the world’s population, according to 2015 research.

However, people who do not suffer from psychological issues also might get anxious and can’t pee when required to produce a urine specimen for a test.


What is a Shy bladder?


According to Better Health, it is the second most common social phobia in the world, coming just after public speaking.

People who suffer from this cannot pee in public spaces. They might also avoid going to public toilets where they fear people might hear them. This generally comes from issues like:

  •         Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  •         Panic disorders
  •         A history of mental illnesses.

People with OCD are also likely to have Paruresis because of the fear of contracting germs or sitting on a toilet that others have also used.

However, if you can’t pee because of the anxiety of a drug test, it doesn’t mean that you are diagnosed with Paruresis. It simply means that the anxiousness has caused you to have a temporary issue of a shy bladder.

Why is a Shy bladder an obstacle to drug test passing?


Drug tests can often cause people to have a shy bladder. So, if it’s your first time, you might wonder, “Why can’t I pee?”

This is a common response to anxiety. For example, you might feel scared of failing the test or simply because you might be uncomfortable that others will test your urine sample. Also, you might be able to produce urine, but not sufficient for the test.

In this case, the collectors stop the test and report it to the concerned department. The person would then have to get an evaluation from a licensed physician. The physician would need to write the medical reason for the person being unable to produce the sample within five days of the test.

The person would then submit the evaluation to a medical review officer (MRO). The MRO holds the authority to refuse, get it repeated at a different date, or cancel the test altogether.

Reasons, why people struggle with shy bladder


People don’t just develop shy bladder out of the blue. Some psychological issue almost always causes the person to develop anxiety about peeing in public spaces. That is why “how to make yourself pee” may be a challenging question.

Shy bladder is a psychological disorder because of which therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or Graduated exposure therapy are the most common treatments. However, it also has some physical aspects, which will be discussed in this section.

Psychological Aspects


Listed below are some of the psychological aspects that cause a shy bladder:

  •     Harassment: If a person has faced sexual harassment or abuse linked to using the restroom, they might experience shy bladder syndrome. It may develop as a symptom of their PTSD
  •      Social Anxiety: People who suffer from social anxiety or already feel self-conscious might feel uncomfortable when peeing around others.

Physical Aspects


When a person has a shy bladder, some physical circumstances trigger anxiety, causing the condition. This is mostly temporary.

  •       Feeling Rushed: Many people have panic or anxiety attacks near a deadline or under pressure. These people might experience shy bladder if someone waits outside the restroom door.
  •       Pressured to Perform: This is precisely what happens during a drug test. The person is pressured to produce a specific amount of urine sample, which triggers anxiety.

Sometimes conditions like Cystitis might also cause the person to produce a small amount of pee. This is not linked to Paruresis or shy bladder, but it is a medical condition that should be diagnosed and treated.

How to overcome  shy bladder for drug test?


Many people are highly likely to develop a shy bladder when required to do a drug test. If you cannot produce a urine sample within the required time, you can inform the person in charge and get a medical evaluation form.

However, suppose you haven’t had any issues with peeing in public restrooms before. In that case, chances are that the anxiety is just causing a temporary issue that can be resolved through the following strategies:

1.      Running the Water

The sound of running water can be pretty soothing. Turn on the faucet in the sink and sit on the toilet. Try to relax while keeping the container in position.

2.      Rinse your Genitals

Another strategy to overcome shy bladder is ringing the genitals and the area between the anus and the genitals. It helps if the water is warm as it will relax your muscles.

3.      Sniff Peppermint oil

Peppermint oil is known for its relaxing properties. You can get some on a cotton ball and sniff it while you try releasing the urine. You can also add a few drops of it to the toilet bowl.

4.      Go for a Stroll

Doing some physical activity is a good idea if you have a shy bladder. The activity can help stimulate the bladder as well.

5.      Rinse your hands with cold water

Rinsing your hands in cold water will increase the urge to pee. When you feel the pressure, hold it in and go to the toilet to complete the process.

6.      Stroke your inner thighs

Your thighs have the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve network. This is a purely sensory nerve, so when you stroke your inner thigh, you might have the urge to pee, throwing the shy bladder out the window.

7.      Use relaxation techniques

Try techniques to relax yourself and your muscles. Breathing in and out methods work like a charm at times. You can also block out the world by closing your eyes and relaxing all your muscles from head to toe.



Shy bladder is a common issue that people face when they are required to produce a specimen for drug testing. While it is a serious psychological problem for some people, even causing them agoraphobia (the fear of going out), some techniques can work wonderful for temporary shy bladder.

Strategies like going out for a stroll, stroking your inner thighs, and sniffing peppermint oil have worked for people for a long time.

If you are experiencing shy bladder syndrome, you might want to try these techniques before you inform the person responsible for taking your sample. Because if you go for an evaluation and get a negative on it, you might even face penalties depending on the facility and its policies.