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Shy Bladder Drug Testing

Updated on April 24, 2013

What is shy bladder syndrome?

Shy bladder drug testing has recently hit the news, with reports of individuals who were required to give a urine sample to enable their employers to test for illicit drug use, were unable to do so because of suffer from a disorder known as shy bladder syndrome (SBS). This disorder is a form of social phobia in which the individual is fearful of being scrutinised. In SBS the person fears how their performance in a public toilet maybe scrutinised by others, resulting in an inability to "perform" or urinate.

Giving a urine sample when you have shy bladder syndrome

Drug testing in various walks of life seems to be on the increase. People are often required to give a sample for any number of reasons: applying for a new job, keeping an existing job, competitive collegiate athletics or sports, the military, the prison service. The typical method of testing an individual for illicit drug use is to collect a urine sample whilst being observed.

Reports indicate that there maybe as many as 7% of all men affected in someway. This figure approximates to around 8 to 10 million men in the US alone. However, figures could be much higher, as sufferers tend to keep their "embarrassing secret" to themselves. As companies and institutions continue to require individuals to be routinely screened, more and more men (and women) will become subject to testing. Despite, modern technology affording various testing alternatives: saliva sample, sweat patch test or testing of hair; the collection of a urine sample under close observation remains the mainstay of testing for drugs.

This method of observed urine collection is enough to cause anyone some anxiety. Given that someone with SBS becomes extremely anxious even at the thought of having to use a public toilet, it is little wonder they are unable to "perform" under these circumstances. This inability to give a sample has been misinterpreted as a refusal and has lead to people losing their jobs in some cases.

Shy Bladder Syndrome included in recent amendment of Americans with Disabilities Act

The International Paruresis Association (IPA) has strongly advocated changes to test procedures and has claimed that many Americans may have been unfairly dismissed from their jobs as a result of being unable to provide a urine sample. An amendment to the Americans with Disabilities Act was made in 2009 to include various afflictions, including shy bladder syndrome. Although, this is very positive in that it may prevent further unfair dismissals, the classification of SBS under the amended disability act seems to have brought it to the publics' attention for less than sympathetic reasons. In an article in 'The Daily Caller' online (, the author of the article: 'Americans with Disabilities Act covers bashful bladder syndrome could cost employers billions', appeared to concentrate on how pathetic the inclusion of this sort of disorder in the amended act was and how much it maybe likely to cost American companies in lawsuits. The young female author continued her story sadly referring to sufferers of SBS as: "timid tinklers" and "shy leakers". Unfortunately, this sort of story does very little to add to a greater and more sympathetic understanding of the disorder and the daily plight sufferers have to endure.

Any sign of change?

Although, technology is readily available to easily implement alternative methods of testing for illicit drug use, collection of a urine sample under the close observation of someone else seems to remain the method of choice for those doing the testing. A lack of public awareness and understanding of the social and psychological impact of shy bladder syndrome still prevails. This situation, unfortunately, is not likely to change anytime soon unless those with shy bladder feel the need to share their experiences. Ironically, people with SBS tend to socially anxious, shy and fear any sort of scrutiny from others. Therefore these individuals are certainly less than likely to want to "come out" and share. Additionally, given the embarrassment that surrounds this disorder, the devastating effect on the individual, both socially and psychologically is likely to remain a mystery to all those of you lucky enough to go through life never giving a second thought to their next toilet visit. If you have anything to share or would like more information visit


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