Public restrooms make you nervous? You are not alone!


Steven Soifer

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Public Health Education and Promotion


It is probable that 500 million, or at least 7% of the world’s population have trouble using, or have issues with, public restrooms. Many of us never think about, much less share with others, our concerns or fears about public toilets. Yet these issues can prevent people from doing their jobs well, or even at all; hinder or prevent people from travelling almost anywhere; and even interfere with or prevent people from having friendships or intimate relationships. The primary reasons are shy bladder (medically known as paruresis); shy bowel (medically known as parcopresis), incontinence (the need to urinate very frequently, or bowel diseases of one sort of another (e.g. colostomy bag) often with little or no control over the process. Moreover, restroom design, or lack thereof, can also be a major hindrance to people with bathroom issues. My goal is to raise public awareness about these issues, and to bring the U.S. into the 21st century regarding toilet issues (Asia and much of Europe are already there). Dr. Soifer is CEO at the International Paruresis Association (IPA), Director of the Shy Bladder Center (SBC), and Secretary of the American Restroom Association (ARA). Dr. Soifer is also chair and professor of Social Work at The University of Mississippi. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx

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