Public toilets

For this blog post, Bladder & Bowel UK and Initial have partnered together for ‘Stalls for All’, campaigning for public washrooms in men’s toilets to have adequate and hygienic sanitary disposal in stalls to ensure inclusivity for all.

  • New research reveals the challenges male incontinence sufferers face, with half (50%) afraid to leave their homes
  • Insufficient public washroom facilities preventing male incontinence sufferers from living a normal life
  • New partnership between Initial Washroom Hygiene and Bladder & Bowel UK aims to confront the taboo surrounding incontinence
  • Organisations call on UK Government to introduce first of its kind legislation to make sanitary bins in male public washrooms mandatory

9 August 2022: New research from Initial Washroom Hygiene today reveals that half of male incontinence sufferers are afraid to leave their homes. For many of these sufferers,   inadequate facilities in public washrooms – including those at places of work – are preventing them from living a normal life.

The research is part of the company’s new nationwide campaign – ‘Stalls for All’ – that aims to deliver ‘washroom dignity’ for everyone and ensure that people have access to the washroom facilities they need. This first phase of the campaign sees the washroom hygiene company partner with charity Bladder & Bowel UK to raise awareness of the challenges male incontinence sufferers – estimated to be around one in three older men – face*.

A wake up call for all businesses

The research reveals that fewer than just a fifth (17%) of men have facilities in their place of work to dispose of sanitary waste in male washrooms, highlighting a severe lack of support from businesses.

This lack of support is felt particularly by those who suffer from continence problems, with just 36% feeling that their sanitary needs are met when using public washrooms. Such is the extent of the challenges that they face, nearly three in ten (29%) have been forced to carry a used incontinence pad in their bag or coat due to a lack of facilities. These hardships are compounded by the stigma that faces incontinence sufferers  –  over half (54%) do not feel comfortable telling their close friends or family, and 44% are too embarrassed to seek medical advice.

Speaking about his experience of bladder incontinence, George** who is in his thirties says: “Incontinence is completely restricting my lifestyle and social activities. My main concern is that people will find out I have a bladder issue, as I don’t feel comfortable speaking about it to those close to me because of the stigma that comes with it. The lack of toilet facilities at my work also means working in the office is an additional cause of anxiety and stress, which I don’t need”.

Peter** is in his sixties and is experiencing bowel leakage: “I’m really struggling to enjoy retirement because of my experience with bowel incontinence, I’ve even had to give up my hobbies which is heartbreaking for me. I’ve been advised on conservative treatment options and containment products, but because disposal bins are only found in women’s and disabled toilets, living a normal life in public is incredibly difficult”.

Jamie Woodhall, UK Technical & Innovation Manager, Initial Washroom Hygiene comments: “Everyone deserves the right to access the washroom facilities they need, when they need them. Today’s research reveals the shocking reality that many men in the UK face, but this is a reality that can be easily avoided if simple changes are made across the country. This should be a wake up call for all businesses or local authorities with a washroom: now is the time to urgently reassess the state of your washrooms and give your visitors, employees and customers the dignity they inherently deserve.”

Initiating change

The partnership between Initial Washroom Hygiene and Bladder & Bowel UK builds upon the organisations’ individual efforts to ensure washroom inclusivity.

Bladder & Bowel UK supports bladder and bowel health for everyone. It improves awareness of and solutions to continence problems across the country, offering a confidential national helpline, a range of resources, professional training and more.

With six in ten (61%) male incontinence sufferers believing that the Government should legislate to ensure the provisions of better disposal facilities in public washrooms to help those who suffer, Initial Washroom Hygiene and Bladder & Bowel UK are together urging the Government to take immediate action.

Karen Irwin, Specialist Nurse and Service Manager, Bladder & Bowel UK says: “Bladder and bowel problems are a common occurrence, but all too often stigmatised and subsequently undiscussed. Many people with incontinence do not seek help due to embarrassment, lack of awareness of treatment options, or consider incontinence to be a normal part of the ageing process. Incontinence can affect anyone at any stage in life and may be related to other medical issues, for example poor general health, physical disabilities, cognitive impairment, stroke, urinary tract infections, prostate problems, diabetes and many more causes. With severe strains on the NHS in a post-pandemic world, fewer men are visiting their GP to get checked. It is therefore crucial that we create an environment in society where men feel comfortable talking openly about their experiences, and receive the support they really need.”

Discussing the partnership’s goals, Woodhall says: “Not only do we want to recognise and support anyone who has ever faced an undignified or uncomfortable experience when using public washroom facilities, but we want real change. The Government must recognise that a nation-wide conversation is long overdue, and new legislation would go a long way in helping this disenfranchised group.”

** Case studies anonymised.

About the research methodology

The research was undertaken by Opinium on behalf of Initial Washroom Hygiene. The survey sample was over 900 UK male adults. The survey was carried out online between 11th – 12th April 2022.

About the Initial Washroom Hygiene

Initial Hygiene is a global leader in hygiene services operating in over 45 countries across the world including the major economies of Europe, North America, Asia Pacific and Africa. It provides innovative and environmentally responsible washroom services solutions to large and small organisations across a range of business sectors including public administrations and schools, food and drink manufacturing, hospitality and leisure, medical and paramedical, construction, retail, services and transportation.

The range of Initial Hygiene’s services and supplies includes:

  • Hand washing and drying products and services
  • Feminine hygiene disposal units and services
  • Products for washroom, urinal and toilet hygiene and cleaning

About Bladder & Bowel UK

Bladder & Bowel UK support for bladder and bowel health for everyone, offering a confidential helpline offering advice from specialist nurses and product experts. Find essential information about preventing and dealing with bladder and bowel issues for adults, children and professionals at Media enquiries:


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