A number of people have written about our “Shy Bladder” post, questioning whether it is, indeed, a disability. After all, what life function does it impair? 

One reader who is a sufferer of paruresis wrote:

“As a person who suffers from shy bladder, I can say that it disables me only by causing me to take forever in the restroom. I can’t urinate in a public restroom if I know that anyone else is in the room. I have an awful time when my bladder is really full and I have to go into a store restroom. I take 3-4 times as long as any other woman.

I had to undergo random urinalyses when I was in the Navy, and they were a whole lot worse than in the civilian world. In the Navy, the observer actually had to observe. I was watched from start to finish, and it was very unpleasant. I always had to have the observer turn on the faucet to help me.

I can understand the person being unable to urinate with anyone else in the room, but I think the employer can overcome the problem. Medical providers have what they call "top hats" — plastic things that sit across the toilet and collect urine. The employer can rig the toilet with one of these. Then, they can pat down the person before leaving her to provide the sample. It’d be more time-consuming, but it can be done.”

 So according to our reading of our reader’s comment, even if “shy bladder” is not a disability, nonetheless there is still an easy way to accommodate a person — a top hat! – so there should never be an issue.