No Pee On Plane

The last time I flew to Hawaii, I had a bad experience peeing on the plane.

A VERY BAD experience!

It took me about 2 hours to finally admit to myself that I to go, and that I would have to go here, on the plane.

I had to accept the fact that I would NOT be able to hold it for the duration of the flight.

I was uncomfortable, shifting in my cramped seat, and ready to bust.

I decided to empty my bladder.

I had no choice!

I told my friend that I had to go (hate doing this), and of course I was sitting by the window. He had to put everything away (book, drink, iPad, earphones), put his seat tray up, unbuckle himself, and then sadly wake up the lady in the isle seat so I could get past. Sorry Sorry Sorry!

Needless to say, it’s a huge ordeal with everyone clearing the way and moving into the middle of the plane just so I can wedge myself through and head towards the back of the plane.

I get up and squish into the isle and all eyes are on me. I’m causing a commotion. I’m getting scanned and judged by everyone on the plane. Such a horrible feeling.

People now know that I’m going to the bathroom!

A spotlight is on me. They all look up, our eyes meet, I feel very ashamed.

I walk down the narrow isle to the back not knowing what to expect. Are the bathrooms full? Are there people waiting? Are they out of order? Who knows?

When I get there I see 2 people waiting and both bathrooms are occupied.

Great, I have to stand with them, awkwardly not knowing where to look, what to do, where to lean…

We exchange casual smiles, someone makes a comment about “never enough bathrooms“, I say nothing, just nod.

Finally after about 5 minutes, it’s my turn.

The man ahead of me comes out and looks me right into my eyes (did he wash his hands?). I hate that moment!

I hate going in knowing he did something in there that I don’t want to know about.

It could still stink

I’d rather wait a minute or two and let it air out, but other people are waiting…

I go in apprehensive, turn around, and fumble with the accordion style door.

I can’t latch it quickly. The door is banging shut, the latch missing, people are watching…

I feel claustrophobic and humiliated.

The door finally latches with a thunk. The plane sways slightly making me hang onto the wall for balance.

It’s so hard to stand up in a moving vehicle, let alone pee in one…

I unzip and aim

No Pee On Plane

I know because of the movement of the plane, it will take longer than normal. I tell my screaming bladder it’s okay. No problem. I’ll stand here as long as you need… If it’s 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15… I’ll wait. I do this knowing that IT IS a waiting game and sooner or later I will pee.

Pee Pee Pee” my brain chants trying to force a start…

And then I hear someone talking outside the thin door…

I glance over my shoulder and I about faint.

There’s a gap in between the door and the doorway. I can see right through the gap. I can see light, shapes, people moving, shadows, they are passing by the door…

I can clearly see a lady with a bright red shirt on. She’s facing the door and waiting for me to pee… OH GOD!

She’s watching me watching her!

I’m mortified!

My heart races, I feel frozen, Paralyzed.

I don’t know what to do. How can there be such a huge gap in the bathroom door?

How am I supposed to go? How is anyone supposed to go? Hasn’t anyone else noticed this?

I turn away and close my eyes. I try to ignore her and concentrate on my screaming bladder and the toilet… Just go. I really need to go.

But that lady is watching. I can feel her eyes burning into me. She’s seeing that I can’t pee.

I’m just standing there with my junk in my hand and I’m unable to do anything… except waste time. My time, her time, everyone’s time.

Go or Get out!!!” I can hear her thoughts…

She’s frustrated because I’m taking so long.

I hear someone bump into the door and the latch and knob rattle loudly.

It makes me jump. I try to pee. I can’t.

“GO GO GO” I scream in my head!

It’s not working. The dam is closed!

After another agonizing 5 minutes of standing there, I finally give up. I wanted to cry. I’m so mad at myself. I’m mad at my bladder. I’m mad at the world. I needed to pee so bad and yet can’t.

Stupid Fucking Bladder!

I hate everything right now. I feel defeated.

I washed my hands. Looked at myself in the mirror and hate what I saw back. A scared kid who couldn’t pee. I stood there for a minute more and told myself that if I left the bathroom, I would have to hold my pee for another 2-3 hours. Because once I give up, there is NO GOING BACK! I would NOT try again! I knew it.

I sighed. Put my head down… And opened the bathroom door. The lady in red frowns at me and tilts her head sideways. HURRY UP!

I slink back to my row. The lady and my friend all have to empty out into the isle again to let me in. I feel everyone is looking at me. Can they see my cheeks flushed? The agony in my eyes? Can they hear my beating heart?

My friend looks at me weirdly. I know he’s thinking “You were in there a long time“. I buckle in and feel like shit. How am I going to get through this day?

It really did enter my mind that I may die from this. It was that bad. Holding in my urine for almost an entire day really could kill me.

Paruresis will be the death of me!

I sit there on the verge of shaking. My bladder is ready to explode and I’m just sitting here doing nothing…

I turned to my friend and whisper “I couldn’t go“.

He frowns. His face and eyes said it all. He wishes he could help me. Wishes I could have gone. He knows I have issues about the bathroom, but he doesn’t really understand the full impact of it.

There’s nothing he can do. Nothing I can do.

I just have to deal with it. Take it one day at a time.

As you can see, my bladder didn’t kill me. It held up amazingly. I ignored it long enough to get to Hawaii, get off the plane, get my luggage, get my rental, drive to the condo location (1/2 hour from the airport) and get to the bathroom… Only 3 1/2 hours later!

I never thought I would make it. I was never so scared in my life.

I hate that long trip. I love Hawaii, I just hate getting there.

And you know what?

I’m going back!

In 6 weeks I’m boarding a plane and heading back to Hawaii. I can’t wait!

Let’s hope this flight will be easier than the last (because I have been able to pee in planes before. It’s not easy, but I have). Let’s hope I don’t get this bathroom with a gap in the door again…

Cause that really fucked with my mind.

That made it impossible to go.

And on a flight that’s 6 hours… going pee is a number one priority!

(And if you want to know how that Flight turned out Read this Post: 17 Hour Flight!)

But the REAL KICKER POST is this Next one… After Months of Desensitization and Fluid Loading… This is a MUST READ: I Cried on the Plane!)

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59 Responses to No Pee On Plane

  1. Another person with Shy Bladder Syndrome says:

    I have shy bladder syndrome and I managed to reduce it to the point where I can pee in public toilets without problems most of the times. But for some reason it is REALLY REALLY hard for me to go on the plane. I have to fly a long distance at least once a year for work.
    The following tricks help me a lot to pee on the plane:
    – Always choose aisle seat when I book my flight. That way I don’t need to disturb anyone when I want to go. It helps to feel more relaxed.
    – Wait when there is no turbulence (if possible).
    – Don’t go to the bathroom when there are people waiting or if all bathrooms occupied. If it’s a long flight the best time to go is when the most of people are asleep.
    – If I can’t go after first try I start drinking water and wait until I have higher urgency level.
    – I have my noise cancelling earphones on and my ipod with the sound of water stream (found it somewhere on internet) when I go to the bathroom.
    – This is probably the most helpful technique for me. I sit down on the toilet seat instead of standing. It makes a huge difference for me.

    I hope that info above is helpful :)

  2. Richard says:

    GREAT tips for the plane ride. You’re right, an aisle seat would alleviate some of the issues I have. Drinking lots of water… that seems like it would just make matters worse. lol I also didn’t think about listening to water streaming on my iPhone… I’ll try that as well. Thanks much! Always welcome.

  3. Ford says:

    I have the same problem, never had it in the past until this last trip. Flight from Denver Co. to Bangkok was so bad, when I got to Japan to change planes I still couldn’t pee. I wanted to see a doctor because I thought something must be wrong. Got a lay over till the next day. Hats off To United for letting me do that. I told them what was going on, and they got me a hotel and the address to the hospital. I went to my hotel first, keeping in mind that I have not peed in 18 hours… While on the plane I thought if I just drink a lot of water that would make me pee (DON’T DO THAT!), got to my hotel stood still and closed my eyes and I was able to pee just fine. I went to the airport to finish my trip, made sure I took a pee a few times first, thought I would be fine… half way though a 6 hour flight the same thing happened. There is something wrong with me, what I don’t know. I do have shy bladder but never had a problem on a plane before. I have to fly back in 45 days, I don’t know what I should do? If anyone has any ideas please feel free to let them be known. Other than just to not drink any water the day of the trip and while on the plane. I don’t know what else to do.

  4. Richard says:

    Hi Ford. I feel for you. It’s such a horrible situation to be in. It seems like your condition may be getting worse as time goes on (mine did). If I were you, I would try to learn the Breath Hold technique. I have wrote a lot about this subject, and have got it to work numerous times in public (and on my last plane trip), so read up and practice: Breath Hold Practice, Breath Hold Video, Breath Hold Explained, Beyond Breath Hold, and more about the actual Cures for Paruresis, and Books on Paruresis that can really open your eyes more about this subject. These things can help you through desensitization, and you might be able to pee on the plane once more. I did! After a bunch of failures, on my last trip to Vegas and back, I was able to pee on the plane. Read: I cried on the plane, and Flying Day. You have time enough to learn this technique and get it to work for you. Good luck! Let me know how it goes. -Richard

  5. Bill says:

    I’m only 16, and I have a ‘shy bladder’. On a long plane journey I had to ‘go’, so I made my way down the isle, and waited my turn to use the lavatory. There was a longer queue than usual, which I later discovered was due to the fact that one of the two toilets were out of order. As I waited in line, about three others began queuing behind me, which as we both know makes things a whole lot worse.

    It was finally my turn. I locked myself in the little room and tried to go… No luck. About 5 minutes later of just standing there, that awful beeping noise sounded. I assumed it was the seat belt sign being turned back on and immediately flushed the chain, washed my hands, and headed back down the isle. Although I was frustrated with myself, I wasn’t that urgent – I figured i’d hold it… At least for a while.

    After I’d had some food (and regrettably more to drink) I confidently tried again. Still no luck. I started getting desperate. My family knew I was distressed at that point. I tried going about 5 times in total during that awful flight, with absolutely no luck what so ever. At that point I literally felt like crying; I was so angry with myself. I had gone past the point of caring what others were thinking, I just had to go.

    Thankfully I managed to hold it until the airport. I literally ran to the toilet – I’ve never been so desperate in my life. I’ve been offered to go to the same place again, but I have rejected the offer partially because of the dreaded possibly of a repeat of last time.

    It is comfort to me knowing i’m not the only one to experience this!

  6. Richard says:

    Hi Bill. It is true that just knowing that other people are going through the same thing you are is somewhat comforting. You are not alone! Start gradually by opening up and desensitizing with a pee buddy. Then fluid load and force yourself to pee in public. It helps! And see if you can teach yourself breath hold as well. That’s amazing if you can get it to work. :)

    The last time I flew on a plane I had great success. I peed in the airport and the airplane and I was so emotional about it, that it literally made me cry in my seat. I feel for you. I know exactly what it’s like. Read my blog here, you’ll see everything that I went through to get to the point where I am now. It’s not easy, but you can get there too. Step by step!

    If you need any other help, check out the IPA forums or buy some books on Shy Bladder. It practically saved my life. :)

    Thanks for writing, I really appreciate it. My whole goal here was to log my journey and to reach out to others. It works. Keep your head high and never give up. I just wish that I had known more about this and tried to do something about it when I was your age. Good luck. Let me know how it goes. :) -Richard

  7. Paul says:

    Hi I think I have the same problem. Shy Bladder Syndrome. It’s so hard for me to pee when I’m on a plane or more people is waiting for me or waiting to use the bathroom.
    I found a way that always helps me peeing on planes. When you get into the bathroom close the door. Breath deeply 2 or 3 times. And then while trying to pee, forget you’re trying to pee. Just relax and start signing a song inside your head. Don’t stop singing just relax and sing and don’t think about anything else but the song. That helped me a lot.

  8. Richard says:

    Hi Paul. Good technique. I know that listening to my iPod or texting seems to be enough distraction as well. Anything to get your mind off the fear of NOT going! :) Thanks for sharing, hopefully it can work for others as well. :) -Richard

  9. gene says:

    I think the problem is intensified by the bouncing around of the plane while you’re standing up. You’re using your leg muscles to keep your balance which throws off your pee muscle control. I also find that sitting for long time periods locks up the bladder muscles and makes it more difficult to relax them. Alcohol is also a no no.

  10. Richard says:

    Yes, the motion and balancing act is definitely a problem. But through constant practice, and repeated attempts, it does make things better. Eventually, you will be able to go, but you need to start with baby steps and work your way up to the difficult things. I did, over the course of months and I was finally able to pee on the plane! Such a wonderful feeling! -Richard

  11. Bobby says:

    Had shy bladder syndrome since High School and I’m now in my mid-fifties. Use all kinds of strategies to get some privacy in bathrooms. Usually if I go in a stall I can go, but sometimes I have to sit, I don’t know why. I have taken plane trips before and was able to go. On my last trip the flight was three and a half hours. On the way I tried 4 times and just couldn’t go. I stood, I sat no matter what I did I was locked up tight. It is such a horrible feeling to be trapped on a plane and with a full bladder. On the way back I didn’t drink a thing, I tried to go once and just gave up, but my bladder wasn’t as full so I was able to make it. Don’t know if I could deal with another plane trip. It was such a nightmare. Have read book on the subject of shy bladder, but haven’t really gotten professional help.

  12. Richard says:

    Hi Bobby, I find my Paruresis is like that all the time, hit or miss. I don’t know why sometimes I have no problems peeing, and other times it’s a disaster. Odd phobia! I haven’t gotten any professional help either, just read a lot and am following their advice. Fluid Loading and forcing myself to pee in public seems to work the best. I would definitely try that. Good luck in your journey, just keep working on it and stay focused. Hopefully you’ll be able to make progress and not let flying keep you from soaring! :) Let me know how it goes! -Richard

  13. Davey says:

    Thank goodness I’m not alone. My wife thinks it’s all in my brain and tells me to just get over it! But I can’t, it’s all in my bladder and it sure spoils the holiday. I’ve learnt that on long-haul flights just to sip a little water now and then, just enough to moisten the mouth. It’s a terrible situation to be in, the hostesses look at you strange when serving drinks, I’ve even thought of asking to use their toilet down in the bowels of the plane but thought that could be a bit dicey with all the terrorism going on and I could get myself in all sorts of trouble. I’m going back to the UK in two days, 24 dreaded hours. Maybe be I should catheter myself? Or take a few Valium to help relax that stubborn little muscle. What to do? I believe this would be a great medical study for some professor, and if there are any reading this “WE NEED HELP!”

  14. Richard says:

    Hi Davey. It’s certainly NOT in your brain… Or I should say, you’re NOT going crazy! This is a social phobia that affects 7% of the population, so a lot of people have the same fears peeing in public, especially on planes where everything is claustrophobic and heightened. If I was in your shoes, I would probably do the same… hydrate myself on the ride back. And then, once home, I would start a desensitization program, like Fluid Loading, Breath Holding, or getting yourself a Pee Buddy to help with your Paruresis situation. I’ve been doing my own recovery for almost a year now and probably 75% of the time I’m successful peeing in public. And the other times, I just keep trying until I do succeed! It helps and I feel like I’ve got my life back. You can too! But it all begins with the first step… which you’ve already taken by doing some reading and research online. Congrats on that. Now it’s time to focus, read more, sign up with the IPA Forums (link on right) and start. Just start! Let me know how it all goes and if I can help some more. Thanks much, Richard

  15. George says:

    I have had this problem since college in the early 1990s. Now I have lived and worked in Asia for 9 years. To make the trip from the US East Coast to Japan, I drank several shots of whiskey which helped me relax enough to urinate BUT drinking (I haven’t had a drop since then in 9 years) makes you have to pee even more. I just had to fly from Vietnam to Taiwan last week. I could not even pee when I arrived at the airport, big let down, discouragement, thus I did not even try on the airplane. However, ALWAYS once I disembark I make a straight line to the bathroom and pee just fine, yes its still the airport, crowded, noisy etc strange huh? Now, I have a new complication. I just learned that I have a urinary tract infection (UTI) and I think it must be from my recent flight and counting the 3 1/2 hour flight and down time at the airport of several hours, I did not urinate for almost 6 hours. I guess the bacteria came from this bout. I have not returned back to the US in 9 years from Asia and my crazy urination airplane/airport “phobia’ is one reason why. I might just confess this to some doc somewhere and next time I fly take some Valium or Xanax. The misery as others describe it and as I experience it is just not worth it – if it can be medicated, after two decades of this hell, I will medicate it.

  16. Richard says:

    Hi George. Try practicing when you’re out at the mall and shopping with Fluid Loading. It really does work. It is unusual (but a good unusual) that you can pee in a busy airport, most Paruretics can’t. Airplanes, because of their cramped quarters and rockiness are always tough for most people (even ones that aren’t pee shy). One thing that did stand out for me in your comment was when you said you couldn’t pee in the airport, hence you didn’t even try on the plane. This is your Paruresis talking negative. It tells you that you had one failure, you’ll just fail again and again… and we listen to it and let it hold us down. YOU MUST not listen to it. YOU MUST force yourself to try and try again over and over until you do succeed. For you can and you will as long as you don’t give up and give in. Don’t let Paruresis talk negative to you. Fight it. Confront your fears. You can overcome this. But not if you back down. Good luck! -Richard

  17. Fred says:

    I’ve been reading all of your posts about being unable to urinate on a plane. I have the very same problem and, I am an airline pilot for a major U.S. airline. I wish I had an easy answer for all of you but I don’t. I have missed a great deal of work over the last 10 years because of this problem. My advise, learn to self cath and carry antibiotics so after you cath you won’t get a bladder infection. But be advised you might develop bladder spasms from catheterization. Finally, look up Dr. David Wise and learn about pelvic pain syndrome, it might help.
    Misery loves company right? Well now you know of an airline pilot who can’t pee on an airplane.

  18. Richard says:

    Hi Fred. Everybody in every occupation is affected by Paruresis. They all have the same issues and horrors with peeing at work. Granted the Plane is by far harder for most, and me included, but it doesn’t make it any more worse to overcome. It’s just getting started and moving forward. I really found Breath Hold, as well as Desensitization through Fluid Loading and getting a Pee Buddy really helped me gain a foot hold in life. I never want to go the cauterization route. That scares me even more. So I’m working on my phobia and forcing myself to face the fears. It’s working so far… At least 75% of the time. Misery does love company, but I’ve had enough to last forever… So I’m getting on that plane, and making myself pee like a man. For I know, half the battle is my mindset. And I’m changing the way that I look at things, and seeing that it’s not something I should be scared of. It is what it is. Everybody deals with it the best they can. What ever works for you is great. I wish you all the best and I hope that you learn to Desensitize your mind, and not worry so much about causing more damage down the road. It works! I’m proof of that. Good luck! :) -Richard

  19. William says:

    I found this page through a search engine where I was looking for people who had problems peeing on airplanes, to see if such a thing existed. I flew to Australia in August from Los Angeles, A 16 hour flight. I have never been on such a long flight before. The longest I was on an airplane in the past was 3 hours max. After about 5 hours into the flight and a bottle of water and a can of coke later, I found my bladder full. I had an aisle seat so I made my way down to the bathroom. There I stood, painful bladder and I couldn’t go. I thought of everything but trying to pee. After a good 10 minutes I was able to go some but not completely feeling empty. I was mad at myself. I made my way back to the seat. I get very dehydrated on a plane so I wanted to keep myself full of water. I figured I would go again maybe in an hour. I continued to drink water, Finally after about 2 more hours I had to go again. this time there was a line. I waited my turn, trying to give myself a pep talk. When my turn came I struggled to go again, standing there, finally I decided to sit down and try to go. I went a little but still felt full. Finally I pushed my muscles and was able to go. However, I was in there forever and the people waiting gave me the stink eye as there was a fair amount of people waiting. I kept drinking water, staying hydrated. I didn’t have to go anymore during the flight but did run for the first bathroom I seen which happened to be a “family” bathroom, one toilet in a locked room and was able to go completely. My flight home was even worse. I thought perhaps it was just an isolated thing but 4 hours into my flight I had to go. I made my way to the bathroom only to find nothing came out, I tried sitting, NOTHING. I made my way back to my seat. This time I drank very little water, just enough so I didn’t become dehydrated and get muscle cramps. Another near 4 hours into the flight (Had been 9 hours since I last went) I found myself needing to go, my bladder hurt, my whole lower part of my body was screaming PEE PEE NOW!! So I made my way back to the bathroom, waiting in the 3 ahead of me line. Got in and went just a dribble. I thought hard about music,life, even stared at the design on the bathroom wall (Flowers and dots) still nothing. I returned to my seat a defeated man. No longer than 10 minutes later, I was in PAIN and felt like I was go right in my pants. I made my way again back to the bathroom (Lady next to me gave me a strange look) I sat myself down on the toilet and was able to nearly empty my bladder. I made my way back and drank very little until the flight landed but I still had to go so when it did land I ran for the nearest toilet because I had to go, only to my dismay I had to go through customs before making my way to a bathroom. I stood for nearly an hour in agony as 3 flights merged into the line for customs. I was so angry at myself. I thought I would never ever fly internationally again and be able drink water on a plane. Here I found myself visiting Australia for Christmas (Fianc√© lives here) and I had the same problem, 16 hour flight and I couldn’t urinate , went and tried twice on the plane and had the same problem just a tinkle and had to force a stream of urine that didn’t empty my bladder. I am flying home in two days and I don’t know what to do. Will have to go through the same song and dance. I sometimes have issues in public bathrooms and will go to a stall if it is busy but most of the time I don’t have a problem. I am wondering why on an airplane I do? It’s almost like my bladder freezes. I then panic thinking I am going to be sick for not going, then wonder what I am doing to my body for not emptying my bladder, then wonder how sick I will be for not keeping hydrated. It’s a vicious cycle.

  20. Richard says:

    Hi William, I would try the same thing that made you go the first time. Sitting down. That may help position and calm the bladder enough to let it flow. Airplanes are difficult for tons of people, not just Paruretics as we see. I have found that using my phone, playing games or reading my texts often distracts me enough to allow me to begin. And once I begin, I can usually pee. Good luck on the flight. It’s important to NOT dehydrate yourself, as that only seems to make the matter worse and make it harder to go when you do. Drink normally and don’t worry about time frames or how long you take in there. It is what it is. Just deep breath, relax, and even try breath hold. It does work. :) Happy New Year! -Richard

  21. Poe says:

    Recently it just happened to me and I found it very difficult to pee in the plane. I do have shy bladder and enlarged prostate. Is there any medication that can alleviate the peeing difficulty. Anyone try alpha-blockers or valium? Any advice appreciate. Tks.

  22. Richard says:

    Hi Poe. I have never tried anything, nor can I give any advice in this area. I would consult a Doctor to see if anything exists. Good luck! -Richard

  23. Chris says:

    I’ve struggled with peeing in public restrooms but can usually
    get a stall or find a solo bathroom. It is very hard to impossible
    for me to pee on a plane. I had surgery recently and the doc gave
    me an RX for Flowmax as I struggle to pee after surgery. It seemed
    to help but I haven’t tried it on a plane. I was 3 hours on a plane today
    and the last 40 minutes was agony. I somehow made an 8 hour flight to
    China and the thing that helped me pee some was putting cold water
    down the back of my legs / seemed to release the pee mechanism enough
    to go partially. I often wondered if I was the only one who struggled with
    this. Thanks for the helpful dialogue.

  24. Richard says:

    My Pleasure Chris. This helps me just as much as it helps others. It’s good to talk about the issue and to see that others have the same problems and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. :) -Richard

  25. Poe says:

    I generally can pee everywhere (with the right privacy) but seems to find it near to impossible to pee on the plane recently even when I choose fairly stable period. Is this shy bladder at work or just that there are special circumstances in plane? Any advice and shared experiences are appreciated. I asked the doctors but they don’t know.

  26. Richard says:

    Hi Poe. I’m not a medical expert either, but I would believe that it is some form of Paruresis. It’s been said that people exhibit signs of Paruresis in many different situations and levels of difficulty. Some guys may have a hard time peeing just in a trough. Others it may be just in an arena bathroom with a line out the door… I believe we all have our own degree of comfort and whether we feel tense, anxious, or pressured to pee. If that’s the only issues you have, I probably wouldn’t worry about it too much. Maybe try sitting down to pee, or listening to music through headphones, or even distracting yourself by playing games on your smartphone, or reading. Some even run water over their hands before hand. The point it, see if you can find a way of triggering yourself to pee in that extreme situation. There’s usually something that will work enough for you to get by. And as long as it doesn’t creep over into the rest of your life (out side of the plane), then it’s not that big of a deal. It’s just one of those quirks in life that we all have to bear. Just try different things to see if you have different results. :) -Richard

  27. Poe says:

    Thanks Richard. Appreciate the advice.

  28. Peder says:

    Before I found this site I thought I was the only one in the world with this problem. Because I’m always the only one on the plane. Everybody else is smiling and drinking. Not me, I’m at best trying to survive. And I think “don’t drink water until the flight is over” that way I don’t need to pee. And what I found out is that when I’m thinking about NOT going to pee, it’s all my mind thinks about. It started at a Metallica concert, I was to pee and so I made my way all the way to the back. When I came back it was hard to find my brother and his friends. My brother did go too and was lost half the concert, he found us again but was mad. I thought hold it or you’ll get lost. The next day I went to the movies with my wife and that was where it got worse. All of a sudden my mind said “GO PEE NOW”. So I said to my wife “gotta go” mid in the movie.. when I came back it only took about 30 mins for my mind to find me again.. “gotta go again” my wife was now mad at me.. and I sat back thinking only pee pee pee sweating. It was a horror. Now every time we are going somewhere I pee as the very last thing to do. Church, the movies, planes thinking that it gives me more time.. but it only gives me a little.. I went to the doc many times, no help. Was sent to a hospital to do a bladder test, nothings wrong, plus my doc thinks I’m a hypercondriac. Went to another place where a man said to me this before you take the bus home from here don’t go pee. I didn’t and I just thought well why not go to war make it a game. How long can I hold before going to pee? Made it 1 hour 2 hours 3 and 4 hours, now me on the plane is another story, same as yours, going to the toilet and nothing happens. Maybe it’s the mind that is in a stressed state and by that blocks us from peeing. Same as peeing public I always think if the person next to me was to attack me I must be ready and what little can I do defending myself while peeing? Don’t know why I think this way.. but in the plane toilet I think what if something is happening while I’m peeing like heavy turbulence “everybody get your seat belts on”, I’m waiting for that to happen. It is a strange thing that when you finally pee it feels like 10% is still there again. I think it’s the mind that is working to save us from danger. The mind says “alert alert” you say there is no alert, the mind says louder “danger danger”, do you read me? No, there is no danger just pee already. Bullshit there is danger, all over and you’re right in the middle of it.. now just relax and pee.. what I’m trying to say by this post, is where there is no experts we must become experts on our own… thanks for this site, I’m home.

  29. Richard says:

    Hi Peder. It is very crazy how Paruresis starts. It just seems like a little random incident can trigger the mind into associating bad things with peeing and hence, takes over the natural flow of things. It shouldn’t be like that, but it is. The fight or flight situation. I really do find that the only couple of things that I’ve been doing in the past 1 1/2 years is: Peeing with a Pee Buddy, Breath Holding, Fluid Loading, and Practice. There is no magic cure, it’s just reconditioning the mind into happy safe thoughts. I don’t know if I’ll ever totally be in control of my bladder, but at least I’ve come to a point where I can manage it and pee in public, sometimes not on the first attempt, but with repeated tries, I finally do become successful. The key is, don’t give up. Don’t beat yourself up. Just realize that you need to work on it. Tell your wife. TRY FLUID LOADING… That alone will change your life… Read: FOR IT REALLY DOES! Keep me informed on what’s happening. Good luck! There are MANY MANY people like us, so don’t ever feel alone. :) Practice my friend. It will bring light at the end of the tunnel. :)

  30. Richard says:

    Hi, so pleased to find this blog. This happens to me a lot, but the first & worst occasion was on a Virgin long haul from London to Los Angeles – my first long haul, and only second flight in ten years after a long but cured phobia of flying. I had been plied with loads of tea in the airport lounge, and then we had a forty minute wait to take off, during which I started to need to go. Once we were airborne and the seatbelts lights were off, I dived for the loo (I was travelling Upper class – so no aisle seat issues). Like everyone else here – the thought that everyone else had seen me go to the cubicle shut me down. Over the next 3 hours I became increasingly desparate and was able to speak to a steward who spoke on the company phone to a Dr. back in London. The advice:- go to the cubicles at the back of the 747, through coach, and take this humorous magazine with you. There are so many cubicles (6 or 8), that nobody will be queuing. Sit down in one, read the magazine, and have a laugh – then your pee will come. 20 minutes on, and it did. Hats off to Virgin.
    Now if I go on a plane, I just don’t drink much, before, or during the flight. Muslims frequently go for around 18 hours without any liquid crossing their lips during each day of the thirty days of Ramadan. All you need is something to moisten your lips, and a paracetamol (mine is not used yet) for the dehydration/caffeine withdrawal headaches that you might get.
    Tea and Coke are best avoided, as is all alcohol, but I find a small decaffeinated latte can be had just before boarding.
    There is another stage to this, and this happened to me on a mountain train with no toilets (The Jungfraubahn in Switzerland) where the train stops at stations inside the Eiger north face, and where you are expected to pee in the public loos. I just couldn’t go, but after several attempts I had a mighty ‘hot flush’ near the end of the journey, and then had no trouble (by now bursting to go) at the next and final stop. It felt like there was a final bodily ‘panic mode’ for the bladder, after which all inhibition was lost, and frankly I could have gone in front of a stadium full of people.
    So don’t give up! You will always pee in the end (although my Dad’s prostate once closed down after a great deal of alcohol one evening and he had to be cathereterised to release it – this is a different problem).
    Knowing there are other sufferers will make the next trip easier

  31. Richard says:

    Hi Richard. That’s something I have not tried yet, sitting down to pee. Plus, a humorous magazine or book might just do the trick. Enough distraction to let the body relax and go. Thanks for sharing! I appreciate it. -Richard

  32. Duke says:

    I just flew back from South Africa and could not pee on the plane. I took Flo max a few days before I flew but it still didn’t help. I did not drink except to keep my lips moist. I was able to pee however while the plane was on the ground. I think some of the issue is that things expand when you are 36,000 feet up as you see that happens to a bag of chips or water bottle, it happens to a mans prostate as well. I took advil to shrink whatever could have expanded and think that possibly xanax would work to relax me when I’m up there. It is a real problem. I would say that some of it definitely has to do with relaxing and not bouncing around. First of all on a 3 hour flight that should be no problem, totally empty the bladder before you fly and then do it when you get on the plane as well before takeoff. 16 hours was incredibly uncomfortable but I did it. Interesting fact that when we did land I really didn’t have much to empty out. Also, my Dr gave me a catheter to use, no freakin way can you do that in the bathroom of a plane, sitting down gives you a better chance as well. It is a problem!

  33. Stuart says:

    I usually do not have problems in stalls if I am alone… If it looks crowded I use the cubicle. Hate cubicles without proper ground to ceiling walls though. Planes are a nightmare for me so I decided to use catheter, as I do not want to be embarrassed during a 10 hour flight…

  34. Stuart says:

    I think intermittent catheters like speedicath might help. I think they are usable on a plane no big deal.

  35. James says:

    I wanted to say ‘thank you’ for creating this blog and providing information. I like many here, thought that I was alone in this bizarre disorder. My wife is very understanding but has no concept of this problem and is convinced this is all in my head (which it may be). This self-defeating inability to do what should be natural can be beyond disheartening. I avoid long trips whenever possible but because of my job, is something I cannot avoid completely. I like you hate this problem and feel like an outcast. Knowing that there are others, and even some useful techniques that could possibly help out is like the weight of the world being lifted.

    Thank you!

  36. Shawn says:

    I know what it means if you need to pee but can’t because you are in a plane or train. I had the problem for quite a few times. What I do now for preparation for long distance flights is to not drink anything a few hours before and during the entire flight. I find it easier to bear thirst than the pain of having to pee but not being able to just because the muscle wouldn’t loosen up. Being condemned to hold back the urine is very painful as we know. By not drinking anything hours before and then during the entire flight I at first thought that it might damage my health. But on the other hand I do fast for 18 hours a day during the month of Ramadan (when it is in summer); which means no food or water from sunrise to sunset. And since 18 hrs fasting each day for a whole month didn’t damage my health a single long distance flight won’t either! This is how I help myself.

    On the other hand I occasionally was able to pee in a plane. Whenever I was able to pee in a plane it was always during a night flight. Maybe because of the darkness and the fact that people are more quiet at night. I really don’t know. But I am always scared. Sometimes I dream about being in a plane and needing to pee but can’t. I have been thinking about the self catheterization. I’ve never done it and I think that it might be painful. Have you got any experience in self catheterization?

  37. Richard says:

    Hi Shawn. No, I have no experience with catheterization. But check out Dave here!

  38. Tim says:

    I have this problem and have had it since I was about 10 (am now 54). I have always had problems at urinals whenever anyone stands close to me or it is quiet.

    On a plane it is a nightmare and I just cannot go. It started about 20 years ago when I was flying back from the USA and I urgently needed to go. I hadn’t spotted that the seatbelt sign was on so I stood up and a flight attendant literally bellowed at me from her seat, “SIT DOWN SIR” and then I felt all eyes were on me and the embarrassment and humiliation I felt was just excruciating.

    Yesterday I was due to fly on a family holiday to Florida from London and I just couldn’t board the plane, I had a major panic attack. And I had a seat in First Class as well as I redeemed my 3 years worth of BA Miles…but still I couldn’t face it as it has developed into a major fear of not being able to enter my bladder, getting urinary retention and causing a flight to divert.

    I wish I could change this as it has become so debilitating to my life – my family travelled without me and I am missing out on an amazing holiday.

    Any advice appreciated :-(

  39. Richard says:

    Hi Tim. Very sorry to hear that. The best advice I could give is to join the IPA’s forum, read the stories, join a group… Whatever you do, don’t hide from it. You have to face it head on. You have to start tackling it step by step today. Forcing yourself to go to bathrooms in public. Even if you don’t have to pee, just to desensitize. Then, practice fluid loading as I describe in most of my posts over the past year… Practice practice practice. Even if you has a misstep, or fail, don’t let it get you down. Go right back out and try again, because eventually you will get used to it and you will be able to pee. It may take the right circumstances, but it will happen, little by little. Practice, build up your weakness and tackle harder bathrooms, which will eventually lead you up to peeing in planes. And learning breath hold is also a great way out. You basically have to hold your breath until you almost pass out, but that will cause your sphincter to loosen up and you will pee. That takes a lot of practice to get used to and master, but it can save your life. Start today! If you want to change the way that you’re living, trapped in your own fears, then you have to force yourself to face the music. Good luck Tim, let me know how it goes. -Richard

  40. Tim says:

    Thank you Richard – this damn condition has taken over my life now. I run a business and every time I go to customer meetings I dread having to ask where the toilet is in case someone says “Oh I’ll show you where it is, I need to go too” because then they are coming in with me.

    My girlfriend is now in Florida with my daughter and her two sons for two weeks and I am stuck at home because I could not face boarding the plane and being unable to pee on a 9 hour flight. It was a very bad panic attack as the flight was called but I simply could not board out of fear.

    Yes, I know I need to face up to this, it has now become very acute and has taken over my life.

  41. Tim says:

    Richard – I have read some of the techniques and will try some. But one thought I have regarding the breath-hold technique…..does breathing in and out of a paper / plastic bag help in a similar manner? Surely the reduction in oxygen by doing this will have the same effect, although take a bit longer of course.

    Of course this could not be done at a urinal without attracting some strange looks – but in a toilet on an aircraft no one would see.

    So am wondering because the most immediate impact of my having this condition is I cannot fly more than about 2-3 hours. If I can solve this I would at least get some of my life back as I am able to pee in public toilets if I use the cubicles, just not at a busy urinal.

  42. Jim says:

    Duke brought up an issue that I think needs to be examined further. He said when you are thousands of feet above the ground, things seem to “expand” and he thinks that would include the prostate.
    The first time I ever flew on a plane was in 1980 when I was 26 years old. This was before I started having problems with a shy bladder, and was able to pee on the plane fairly easily. However, the first thing I noticed was that it took me longer than normal to start the stream, and that the stream was much lighter that when I peed while on the ground. My theory is that when you’re on a plane, the pull of gravity is not as strong, causing the light stream. Add in factors like shy bladder, nervousness, turbulence, etc. and you can see how a light stream can easily turn into no stream.
    Since I developed shy bladder later on and went on my first plane trip when I was unable to pee, my strategy has been to dehydrate myself before the flight. This has worked pretty well, but I’ve heard it is not a good idea because if you are dehydrated on a plane, blood clots can develop in your legs which can lead to some very serious issues. A few years ago I told my PCP what was going on, and all he said was “If I were you, I’d keep dehydrating myself.”
    The last time I flew was in 2010. In spite of trying to dehydrate myself, I had to go while still in the air and there had been mild turbulence throughout the flight. The turbulence caused my sphincter muscle to close right up and I was unable to go. I have avoided flying ever since, and hope to never have to fly again. However at some point, I probably will have to fly for a funeral or family emergency, in which case I will try some of the techniques mentioned here like listening to music on an IPOD or holding my breath. Thanks for listening.

  43. Jim says:

    I feel your pain. When all else fails learn to use a catheter correctly. Game changer….

  44. Jim says:

    Hi Richard – First, thanks for your service. It is exemplary and valuable to me and many others. Okay, so flying is never easy for me. I can get anticipatory anxiety before the journey to the airport, then security lines, etc. don’t make it easier. If I am not present to my condition, I am inviting tension into my body, shoulders, neck head, abdomen. This can take on momentum and it sure isn’t going to help when I’m on board and feel the need to “go”. I am 61 yrs old and have had this issue since about 17 yrs old. Peeing on planes has been a real challenge. Early on, with no prostrate issue, I always seemed to manage. Now the urgency to void on board pops up more frequently.

    There is hope however! Okay, so what do I do? First, I ALWAYS get an isle seat. And for me, 6’3″ and 185 lbs, a middle seat is going to bring too much additional tension into my body. With my height, aircraft bathrooms are friggin small…! So, with the slight motion and all, I have chosen to sit. From there it’s a matter of BREATHING and allowing the body to RELAX. I don’t think about peeing. I give it some time, invite some distracting thoughts and bring relaxation into the body. I must free myself of judgment of any kind. If I don’t go, I don’t go. I will have another chance.

    I choose not to drink a lot of water on board. I know about the dehydration thing but I also know that Muslims don’t drink water sunrise to sundown during Ramadan and they still show up for work, etc. so I convince myself that it’s okay in this case. I totally avoid coffee, tea or coke because I know it will cause ongoing urgency to void . I did a 16.5 hr flight to Hong Kong. It worked out okay! I was paranoid about it so I asked my doctor for benzo’s and sleeping pills (he gave me only 4 of each because I’m in recovery). I didn’t really need them but the crutch of knowing I had them probably helped. I am scheduled to do a cross country (US) flight soon and I’ll admit that I’m a bit concerned. But, I know that in the worst case I can hold it (not without discomfort) for 7 hours. But I won’t have to. I will go. I just need to be strategic. Invite calm relaxation into my body by getting out of my head, using relaxation techniques, listening to audio of running stream, etc. Then, choose times when there are no lines for the bathroom. That one is important for me. As a default, I have even chosen to sit all the way in the rear of the plane so I can have instant access to the bathroom when there is no one waiting. If I can go using these tactics, there’s hope for all of us. Recognize that circumstances are admittedly difficult but be gentle with yourself and use some supportive self talk. Finally, if someone has so much difficulty and doubt, you can break up the journey to maximum 3-4 hr flights (when traveling domestic at least). NY to FL for example, I’m not too overwhelmed because I know in the worst case, holding it for a few hours is okay. On overseas flights, I am much more comfortable with the overnight flights because of the darkness and many people are sleeping. Finally, for overseas flights, Emirates has a jumbo Airbus with business class on a separate level with far more bathrooms per passenger. Expensive and they don’t fly to many Europe destinations but just an FYI. Hope that’s helpful!

  45. Bob says:

    Same problem as everyone else on this board. My work requires me to travel frequently to Hong Kong from the US east coast. 16 hour nightmare flights in coach wondering about how much abuse a bladder can take before it bursts. Have tried everything. The only thing that makes it possible for me is the opposite approach of water loading. I do a complete dry out. No input no output. I start drinking a lot less 24 hours prior to flight, nothing 12 hours before flight, and if possible a good sweat inducing workout 4 hours before flight. Once I hit the mark of 2-3 hours before landing on the plane flight I can start drinking again. I know its not healthy but its the only thing that works for me and takes most of the pre-flight stress out of the process. Only other thing I’ve noticed from the past is if I’m half asleep on the long haul flight – from melatonin and Ambien – I can sometimes pee easily due to lack of stress.

  46. Tim says:

    Wow. This site is amazing. If I’d seen this when I was in my late teens or early twenties it literally would have changed my life. It wasn’t till I was in my mid-twenties that I even dared to look this problem up. Had it my entire adult life… I actually can’t remember not having it, so don’t know exactly how long I’ve had it, but I’m 33 now… It’s awesome that you guys are on here, sharing this. I’m certain that young guys commit suicide over this, because it definitely pushed me right to the edge, on several occasions. It’s a nasty bitch of a thing. Seriously would not wish it on my worst enemy.

    Thank God or Buddha or Allah or whoever that I discovered (by dumb luck, from being in a situation of sheer desperation) that holding my breath forced the damn yellow liquid out! If not, I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be here. Would have died from kidney damage (when you’re absolutely HURTING for a pee, then have to hold it in for another 6 HOURS, all while acting ‘normal’ and like you don’t need to pee to your friends = physical and mental torture); stress (don’t know how my brain or heart coped under all that horrible pressure); or yeah, from finally giving in and ending my own life. Plenty of times I have thought ‘it will be a relief when I die’. This thing is serious.

    It’s gotta be one of the most secretive, hidden, private problems out there. I only ever told a handful of people in my life. Most of those were girlfriends. I now know that for me, personally, I will never get rid of this. I have tried and I am TIRED. It’s fucked. At least now I’m at the stage where I’ve got kids and don’t give as much of a shit about what people think about me. I also know that, if it comes down to it, I can hold my breath and go. I don’t like doing this all the time, because it seriously feels like I’m going to die of suffocation when I do it. No one has seen me in this situation before, sitting down, inside a closed cubicle, hands pressed hard against my ears… ‘Silent scream’ is the term I always have in my mind. Not nice.

    Hearing that you’re not the only one out there with this problem, though, is nothing less than a revelation. More power to you guys.

    Keep up the awesome work.

  47. Richard says:

    Hi Tim. Thanks for the comment… It really is amazing to read, and as you say, confirming that we are not alone in this stupid hell. :) I wish I had begun much sooner in life as well, probably could have nicked it in the butt long before, but at least I’m coping now and handling things much better. It’s non-stop trying and succeeding and misstepping from time to time. But it’s better than locking myself in the house for the rest of my life.

    Thanks again for the kind words, it means a lot.


  48. Karlit says:

    I’m not sure if this is a site for men’s urinary problems only, but I’m a young woman with shy over active bladder and it gives me hell during plane trips.
    The panic sets in when you have been in the plane toilet for over 5 minutes with no luck and you know if you can’t pee now there might not be another chance. Also it is frustrating because the inability to pee feels so unnatural and even silly and you end up feeling so bad about yourself and your stupid inability to simply piss. the worst is when you need to walk down the aisles again, back to your seat after a failed attempt at emptying your bladder, its excruciating and you just might want to die at that moment.

    Anyway I’m glad I have at least read some tales of other people with similar problems because it is more frustrating to think you are the only one experiencing these problems. I think it could be psychological and the idea of peeing 35k feet in the air blocks the flow.
    Sigh this makes me dread flights and makes me not want to travel.

  49. Kayla says:

    It is when other girls are in the bathroom when I am in there. Can’t go. What is that called when you are in the bathroom when other girls are in there and you can’t go?

  50. Richard says:

    It’s called the same thing; Shy Bladder, Paruresis. -Richard

  51. Greg says:

    Glad to see that there are so many other people with this problem. I thought I was the only one with it. It happens most times when I fly. The shaking of the plane doesn’t help and I always feel people are looking at me. I’ve been in the bathrooms of planes for 5 minutes at a time and nothing comes out. It’s driving me crazy as I would like to take some really long trips but I’m really afraid of this problem. Years ago I went to Hawaii and was on a new plane with a large bathroom. I had no problem going but those small bathrooms are horrible. I never feel relaxed because I feel people are counting how long I’ve been in there. Next time I will try an aisle seat and take Xanax. Maybe I’ll be more relaxed. My doctor suggested seeing my psychologist about this since it’s mostly in my head anyway. I hope to overcome this problem. Drinking much or not at all doesn’t help either way.

  52. Elbridge Price says:

    I also have a severe problem with peeing on a plane. I am male. Flying seems to be the only time the issue presents. I simply cannot urinate on a plane, period. And like others have said it’s very painful. When I arrive at my destination, I’m first off and head for the closest men’s room–in utter agony. Once I get to the men’s room, no problem–out it goes. I have an motor home, no problem no matter how long the trip. Ditto with car trips. It’s been a long time since I’ve taken a train anywhere, but I don’t recall a problem. I had laser prostate surgery some time ago but this has not really helped with plane urination. I also have urination issues following surgical procedures. Doctors have told me that “frozen bladder” is common after a surgical procedure. I had a heart catheterization and I was required to be immobile for 8 hours so that the blood could clot; this meant I couldn’t get up to urinate. I couldn’t use a urinal in bed. Why, I don’t know. I’m not shy…. anyway they had to do the procedure a second time and this time I asked for a Foley catheter and it went much better because I didn’t have pain from an over full bladder. But flying is a huge issue. I’ve mentioned this to my urologist. He looked at me as if I was crazy! The remedies discussed don’t work for me.

  53. Richard says:

    Hi Elbridge. The only thing I could recommend is to try self catheters when you fly on a plane. That may be the only thing that will work if all else fails. -Richard

  54. Elbridge Price says:

    What about medications like Flomax? Or muscle relaxers? I am planning a visit to my urologist and GP as I have to fly to Michigan fromTexas in September 2018. I’m dreading it.

  55. Richard says:

    Hi Elbridge. I have zero experience with medications. I found desensitization worked best for me. That and breathhold. Flying is the only issues you have? Maybe you should see about taking a train up? -Richard

  56. Alex says:

    From my personal experience, I think the best thing is NOT DRINK ANYTHING on the airplane (I did drink and I couldn’t pee and it was a very, very bad feeling). Humans can live without water in harsh conditions 3, 4 days, so you wont die even in a very long flight. Drinking and not be able to go will lead to panic attacks, feeling you are going to die because your bladder will explode, plane will land before destination because of you, etc. Sometimes, I am able to pee on the airplane,other times its a no…
    I fly from Europe to North America, its a 8 hours flight.

    Other tips that helped me:
    -have aisle seats
    -go when no one is at the toilet
    -use the toilet of the back of the airplane (somehow in my mind I think it’s hidden from the people)
    -turn on the sink battery when you try to pee, let water running on your hand
    -listen to some music and think you are in a forest, no one is there, you can go anytime

    I hope this tips help a little bit. Cheers to all of you out there.


  57. Richard says:

    Hi Alex. Avoiding the problem is not a solution. You have to keep trying and desensitize yourself. Otherwise, it’s a no-win situation. -Richard

  58. Peter says:

    Interesting to read this blog, I’m now in my late 50’s and have travelled a lot all of my life. I never had any problem with peeing on an aircraft at all until I reached about age 50. I love travelling but have only made short trips recently because of this stupid psychological issue. I actually flew from Amsterdam to Hong Kong last year without peeing at all, it was a depressing experience. I mentioned it to my wife last year and she laughed and said that I sounded like a child. I’ve done all the things that others have mentioned but have now given up, it is annoying because I never had this issue in the past. Maybe hypnosis is the answer?

  59. Richard says:

    I’ve never heard of hypnosis curing anyone, but maybe it has. Would be interesting to talk to someone that’s totally over this phobia from a session. Let me know if you try it, and if it succeeds. -Richard

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