A woman sprays a pink air freshener in a public bathroom. A bathroom stall with two legs coming out of the bottom is visible.

I No Longer Have a Phobia of Using Public Bathrooms

One of the best things my IBS has given me is the ability to poo in any toilet, anytime, anywhere. All without even a hint of shame.

Train station toilets, fancy hotel toilets, friend’s toilets, work toilets, portaloos at festivals, disabled toilets and those toilets where there is a huge gap both at the top and bottom and feels like you’re separated from your bathroom neighbor by a slim sheet of paper. Been there, done that. Literally.

Life with IBS-D

Having IBS-D means at any point during the day you may need to drop and roll urgently towards the nearest toilet. IBS-D is unpredictable in its nature. It doesn’t care what you’re wearing. It has no worries about where you are or whether it’s even convenient. It just knows that when it needs to empty your system, it needs to do so immediately, no matter the consequence.

All I can say is I’m glad I used to be into running as a kid. I’ve got strong thighs that will get me to wherever I need to go.

No public bathroom phobia for me

All of this has meant that I have no shame in pooing. And, I have no bathroom phobia. I will go wherever I need to go. I have to. For me, there’s no alternative.

I have a family member, my mum, who is only able to go from the comfort of her own bathroom. When, for whatever reason, she’s had to deviate from that plan, it has been a massive accomplishment. A reason to call me for a pat on the back.

Using a public bathroom

I know people feel a sense of shame around needing to poo, let alone talking about it, and I get that’s it’s been made to feel like a taboo. Something dirty. Something that women shouldn’t talk about. But I’m not here for any of that. Because pooing is human. We all do it. It’s not shameful. It’s natural. It’s our body’s way of eliminating waste.

I appreciate that when using a public bathroom, you may have the added fear of unpleasant smells or sounds occupying your mind but there are ways around that. A couple of sheets of loo roll to line the bowl break the first drop against the water. A spritz of one of the many toilets sprays on the market in the bowl can help alleviate the smell. If you have the option of choosing a cubicle, go for one on the end so you only have one potential neighbor.

No shame for my IBS bathroom time

In all honesty though, when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go, and I have no shame in what toilet that happens in. As long as I have a toilet for it to happen in. In the meantime, I’m going to continue my fun game of noting down all the varying types of toilets, from basic to luxury venue, that I’ve had the pleasure of doing my business in. Because I’ve got to find a way to laugh about it.

How about you, do you have a public bathroom phobia?

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