Q&A: “I’m Unable To Have Bowel Movements When I Travel – Why?”

public bathroom signQ: I’m unable to have bowel movements when I travel – why is this?




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A: This condition is called parcopresis. Parcopresis is also known as shy bowel syndrome. This is a psychological condition that is usually due to a fear of embarrassment or vulnerability during a bowel movement. Parcopresis can be described as: “An inability to defecate when other people are perceived or likely to be around (e.g. in the same public toilet, the same house or the same building).” This inability limits the sufferer to being able to defecate only in a limited number of ‘safe’ places thus restricting their lifestyle. The level of restriction varies depending on the severity of each sufferer’s condition but in extreme cases it can force people to give up their jobs, avoid holidays they would love to take, and generally dictate and limit most aspects of their lives. A medical description is ‘Psychogenic Faecal Retention’. It affects both men and women, of all ages and backgrounds; it is a form of toilet phobia.


This syndrome can be treated with cognitive behavioral therapy with a psychiatrist or psychologist. Hypnotherapy has also shown improvement in people that experience this problem.

Some opt for an audio hypnosis session that uses the powers of the unconscious mind to ‘reprogram’ automatic responses so that you can respond calmly and comfortably in situations that used to cause distress. Replaying positive statements reinforce the position for a safe place to go to the bathroom.


Visit the BlackDoctor.org Mental Health center for more helpful articles and tips. 

Dr. Renee WHITE COAT HS Frame head onlyIf you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ‘Ask Dr. Renee’. Follow me on Twitter @AskDrRenee and on my website.