Paruresis, or more colloquially bladder shyness is a phobia where the anxiety of attempting to urinate in a semi-public setting, like a public restroom, will not allow the patient to relax the sphincter surrounding the urethra to allow urination. It usually starts to affect persons in their teenage years, but can affect persons of any age. It can occasionally be caused by certain drugs, particularly narcotics. In severe cases, the patient can only urinate in a completely private setting, or in very rare cases, catheterization might be used.
Although the condition does not cause secondary complications, it can be dehabilitating to the social life of people who suffer from it. It is recognized in the United Kingdom as a condition that can excuse jury duty or even the necessity of taking random drug tests.
Like many types of anxiety disorder, behavioral therapy has been shown to be useful in overcoming the condition. However, sedatives that reduce anxiety can be effective in severe cases.
In Top Secret, House suffers from narcotic induced paruresis. In Act Your Age, Eddie pretends to be bladder shy so he can collect the urine from the woman whose symptoms he is actually describing to House. House discovers the deception when Eddie's urine shows he is pregnant.