Getting pee-shy at a crowded urinal is an inconvenient but not uncommon affliction for men. But for one Connecticut man, his over-bashful bladder was more than an inconvenience -- it cost him his job.
Daniel Pond, 53, of North Branford, Conn., was fired from his job as a public works highway employee in 2009 after he failed to pass a mandatory drug test because, he said, his pee-shyness made him incapable of providing the necessary urine sample.
Pond is now suing the town of North Branford for $15,000, claiming that he does not have "any sort of problem" with drugs, and that his request to submit a blood test in lieu of the urine sample his "medical condition" prevented him from providing was ignored, according to the filed complaint.
Joseph Himle, director of the Curtis Center at the University of Michigan School of Social Work, said "it's surprising" how often those with paruresis -- a condition that makes it difficult or impossible to uriniate in the presence of others or when others are close by -- end up not getting jobs or being fired for issues such as these.
"It's clear to me that there need to be greater flexibility in collecting urine samples for drug testing," he said.
Dr. Michael O'Leary, senior urologic surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, suggested that having people sit down to urinate or catheterizing them would be other options to obtaining the necessary urine sample.
"Dysfunctional voiders," as O'Leary prefers to call them, are not physically unable to pee, as they can do it when alone, but they have a psychological performance anxiety that makes them unable to relax the external urinary sphincter on command when under social or time pressure, such as having someone observe them during a drug test.
Paruresis is treatable with cognitive-behavioral therapy, which, over time, can help relax the sphincter muscles and dispel anxiety, Himle said. Medications, such as Flomax, which relax the pelvic muscles can also help, O'Leary said.
Neither Pond, nor his lawyer, John Williams, returned calls from ABC News seeking comment.
Pee-shyness is one common way our bodies betray us, but there's more. From obscure conditions such as spasmodic dysphonia to the tendency of some to faint at the sight of needles, the human body can sometimes override our consciousness and self-control.
Here's a list of some of the more serious conditions that can leave people feeling out of touch with their own skin and bones.
For 30 years, Wendy Allot had no control over the color of her face.
"I'm a big time blusher," said Allot, 46, of Kirkland, Wash. "I could turn so red that it almost became a purple hue. It was not attractive or adorable -- it was humiliating."
By age 11, Allot said she'd turn beet red anytime she thought anybody was looking at her. Then she'd turn beet red thinking about the possibility of turning beet red.
"So I blushed basically from the fear of blushing. It was ongoing," said Allot. Then at age 37, Allot took an antidepressant and found that the blushing just stopped.
"I had no one to go to that thought it was even a problem," said Allot. "When you are blushing probably 50 to 75 times daily, there is a problem."
For more information on the science and social cues behind blushing, click here.