How To Get Over Public Bathroom Anxiety

If you’ve ever had problems using the public bathroom, you may have some form of toilet anxiety or phobia. This can manifest in many ways, but if this has been a major issue for you, we encourage you to seek a doctor to rule out any physical problems that could be causing this outside of phobia. Other causes could be IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), Chron’s disease, bladder infections, muscle injury, and even diet. If it is some form of phobia, it can occur in a number of degrees – from mild distaste to a real fear of using a toilet in public. For most, it’s a mild inconvenience. However, the condition can be very limiting – and it’s barely recognized by the mental health community even though it’s one of the most common phobias. Here are some common reasons why you might have difficulty using the public toilet, and possible solutions to overcome:

Mild Stage Fright

The most common reason we might not want to use the public bathroom is comparable to stage fright. In this case, you likely have embarrassment or mild fear of “performing”, especially if someone is in a stall or urinal right next to you. This basically leads to the tightening of your bladder muscles, which will restrict movement. It can usually be overcome with some breathing and relaxing of your muscles so that you can finally release. It may also help to find a private standalone bathroom without stalls, such as The Portland Loo, so that you are less likely to be triggered.


Technically an obsessive-compulsive disorder, some are so obsessed with cleanliness that they can’t use a public bathroom at all because they don’t feel they have enough control over their environment. Others just prefer not to use a public restroom due to a mild fear of germs and will avoid it if at all possible. Either way, you should know that public restrooms reduce the spreading of disease, not the other way around! But if you’re really concerned, we suggest you carry sanitation wipes with you, just in case you do need to use a public restroom. It’s better to use it than hold it and wiping down the toilet and faucet handles will alleviate most of the germs you’ll find in public bathrooms.

Paruresis or Bashful Bladder

This is a condition that over 20 million Americans suffer from, where you fear other people being able to see or hear you use the toilet. It’s similar to stage fright but can be more severe in that you simply can’t use the restroom if there is anyone around. It creates a worry that people are judging you – and usually becomes worse the better you know the people that are close by. It can also occur when you are feeling pressured to finish quickly, or even just simply worried or stressed about something else completely. It may help to flush the toilet while in use, or run the faucet, or again find a single use bathroom. Sufferers have had success with enlisting a friend to be a ‘pee buddy’ who you ask to remain in your home with you while you use the bathroom, and condition yourself over time to gradually get used to them being nearby. If it’s extremely severe, you may want to seek professional help to try other forms of behavioral or hypnotherapy.


Some people just really don’t like being confined in a small space. And this can be aggravated with the noise and smells of a public bathroom. For sufferers, they might struggle with locking or even closing the door. Using stalls with an open bottom can help them, or if they’re extra-large stalls with more room can give them some relief too. The Portland Loo is also a good choice, in that it has the grating around the bottom and room enough for a family to use. If it’s become debilitating, consider getting some professional mental health treatment.

Having an Accident

You may have an irrational – or rational – fear of not being able to make it to the toilet in time! Whether this is because you have other underlying health issues, or it’s simply a phobia, this can prevent you from traveling or spending time anywhere you don’t know where a public toilet is located. Planning ahead and researching where the public toilets are can be a really great coping strategy. You can find a Portland Loo on our Loo Locator, or alternatively you can usually find public toilets in libraries, malls, and many city buildings.

The Portland Loo was created with the City Of Portland to help keep the city clean and crime-free – which inevitably will ease many common fears for cities and organizations looking for a good public bathroom option. If you’re one of those looking for an affordable, clean, and secure bathroom like the Portland Loo, hit us up through our website and we’ll be happy to go over the specs and other details with you.