Stress and Urinals: Discover the Surprising Effects of Proximity on Urination!

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Each of us, to varying degrees, can be considered paruretic. This is at least the conclusion that seems to be reached by research conducted in the 1970s.

This study does not focus specifically on the phenomenon known as "shy bladder", a disorder that has the potential to affect anyone, regardless of their situation. Instead, it looks more broadly at men's urinary behaviors, analyzing how they can vary depending on the different situations and contexts in which they find themselves.

The design of the study

In 1976, researchers wanted to know if proximity to urinals had an impact on the time it took to initiate the flow of urine and the time to urinate. Here's what they found.

The design of the experiment is simple. It took place at a university in the United States. There are 3 urinals side by side.

The experiment went like this. 3 urinals, 3 situations, 60 participants.


Situation #1, all urinals are available and the person is alone to urinate.

Situation #2, the middle urinal is out of order. When the witness chose a urinal, a person from the experiment immediately arrives and takes the other. So there is 1 urinal apart.

Situation #3, a urinal on the side is condemned, so it's shoulder to shoulder.

In each case, scientists measured the time needed to initiate the flow of urine and the total time to urinate.

To observe this, they used a periscope in a pile of books. It's 1976 so no mini-camera or other webcam!! However, they took care to orient the periscope in such a way that they could not see the faces of the subjects.

The Results

The results in the form of a graph look like this:

Influence of physical proximity on men's urination

We see that the more, there is someone close to the subject, the more time to trigger urination increases.

This would be due to emotional activation. The researchers concluded from their results that stress slows down or prevents the relaxation of the external sphincter of the urethra, a condition of urination.

In other words, most men are stressed by the presence of someone else. The delay to trigger is almost doubled so it is not insignificant.

The other curve is even more interesting. It represents the total duration of urination. However, here, the more there is a person close the more the witnesses do their business quickly.

But, then, why does the duration to empty decrease?

The researchers concluded that the stress due to proximity means that the muscles are more tense and evacuation is then faster. The discomfort of proximity also makes us want to expedite the matter.


I found this study particularly interesting and revealing. Whether we are paruretic, that is to say suffering from a difficulty to urinate in the presence of other people, or not, we clearly realize that physical proximity with others and respect for our personal space, our comfort zone, have a direct and significant impact on our ability to urinate.

This is a finding that may seem obvious, but which is here confirmed by the study. The major difference for those who suffer from shy bladder is that the blockage, this inability to urinate, is persistent and does not simply resolve with the removal of other people.

Video Transcript

Did you know all guys have some kind of stage fright when it comes to peeing in public toilets?
Stick around and I will tell you everything about this surprising science.
So in 1976 some researchers have decided to study the impact of
proximity in men's urinal and how it affects our behavior especially the time it takes to
trigger the urine and the total time it takes us to empty our bladder.
So when they did this experiment obviously the subject they didn't know they were observed
and so we are back in the 70s and so there was no webcam no smartphone no nothing and so
it's a bit funny because in this paper they actually say they had hidden a periscope in
a stack of book to observe the basically the flow of urine and of course they had inclined
it in such a way that we couldn't see the face of the person but we could actually see
from the torso down to the penis basically and so they could actually measure the times.
And so there was three situations the first situation is the simplest the subject is alone
among the three urinals and he is free he has all the time in his world.
The second situation is the one where they had blocked the middle urinal
with an out of order sign or whatever and so when the subject
arrives then one of the researcher was just coming straight away on the other urinals as
the one that was left and so in that situation there was like one urinal in between them.
And finally the third situation as you can imagine is where they had blocked one of the
urinals on the side and so in that case the subject and the researcher they were shoulder
to shoulder in the worst situation possible.
What did they find exactly?
If we graph the data it gives somehting like that.
On the blue line you find the time it takes to start the pee to try the urination.
We see that the closer someone is to us, the longer it takes to trigger the pee.
It takes longer, I mean if we look at the actual data it almost doubles.
We come from 5 sec to almost 9 sec.
And so it means there is a real impact on proximity.
The closer someone is to us, the more anxious we get,
the longer it takes us to trigger pee.
The other line, the red line,
indicates the total time it took to empty our bladder.
And in that case, it's the opposite.
And we would be like, okay, why?
The closer someone is to us,
the less time it takes to empty the bladder.
And they justified that saying that
because the closer someone is to us,
we get more anxious, more stressed.
And so we tend to,
we want to basically evacuate as fast as possible
because like we have to be real here.
I mean, in the urinal, the closer someone is to us,
it's kind of an awkward situation,
especially the shoulder to shoulder situation.
And so unconsciously, we go faster
because we don't want to feel this awkwardness
I found this study interesting
because it was not specifically studying people
with shy bladder syndrome.
It was studying the general population.
But they found out that even if we don't have paruresis,
the proximity of someone else
impacts the time it takes to trigger urination.
And I found this very interesting.
It means that unconsciously,
we are all affected by the presence of others
in the public toilets.
The only difference if you have a bashful bladder,
is that instead of delaying the urination,
you are totally blocked.
But it's reassuring to know that actually
all men are affected by this physical proximity.
If you found this video interesting,
don't hesitate to put a like on it.
It helps.
And also don't hesitate to share in the comments.
Okay, what's your feeling in the public toilet,
whether you have shy bladder syndrome or not?
What's your feeling about being close to someone else
in the public toilet?
How do you feel about that?
What's your feeling?
Don't hesitate to share.
And finally, if you have shy bladder syndrome,
don't hesitate to check out the link
in the description of this video
to get the resources you need to finally overcome it.
I'll see you soon in another video.

About the Author : Guillaume

I'm a man who lived 17 years with a shy bladder.

Today, it's part of my past, but I've decided to help others free themselves from this nightmare that greatly affects the quality of life.

I've lived abroad many years and consider myself a citizen of the world, but I can't do anything for being born in France, so forgive my accent in the videos 😀

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