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Restroom anxiety

Restroom Anxiety: How to Poop in Public

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Ideally, we would always be able to do our business in a pristine, luxurious, sound-proof bathroom complete with aromatherapy, soft Cottonelle® Brand Toilet Paper and Cottonelle® Flushable Wipes for a refreshing clean. But the reality is, when the urge hits, we often have to use a public restroom that we’d really rather not. And for many people, this can be a serious source of anxiety.

Understanding Toilet Anxiety

Paruresis’ is the official term for a shy bladder and ‘Parcopresis’ is the term for a shy bowel. It’s believed that anywhere from 6.5% to over 32% of people suffer from these conditions*, often grouped together under the terms “Toilet Anxiety” or “Toilet Phobia.” Unfortunately, there isn’t much official data about Toilet Anxiety or the fear of using public restrooms, because it’s one of the least talked about conditions. Toilet Phobia is defined as “a person [who] feel[s] scared about using a public restroom, about being too far away from a toilet, about not being able to use the bathroom when they need to, or about the toilet being unclean.”

People suffering from more extreme cases of Toilet Anxiety may find that it affects their professional, social and romantic relationships because it’s difficult to use a bathroom in public places, at work, at other people’s homes or when friends and family are visiting.

One 2016 study found a link between anxiety about pooping and social anxiety. This is because people with anxiety about pooping are likely to use avoidance techniques and believe that there will be negative social consequences related to pooping in a public setting.

For those suffering from severe Toilet Anxiety, speaking to a medical professional is recommended. For those who feel anxious, but still able to use a public restroom when they have to, we have some suggestions that may help ease your mind (and your sphincter).

How to Poop in Public Places – A Few Tips

  • Create some bathroom white noise

  • If you’re feeling nervous about making noise, leave the tap running or turn on the shower. Can’t reach the tap from your stall? No problem! If you have your phone handy, you can quickly search for white noise videos or even play your favorite music.

  • Bring along your own spray

  • If you’re worried about stinking it up, bring along your own air freshener. Products like Poo-Pourri mask unwanted smells and come in small sizes that can easily fit in your pocket or bag.

  • Courtesy flush & toilet papering the bowl

  • If you’re still anxious about sounds, try floating a few lengths of toilet paper in the bowl before you go. You can also try flushing the toilet as soon as you poop. It’ll reduce any unwanted smells and the flushing noise helps create a great cover.

  • Pack your ‘Emergency Poop’ kit

  • If you like being a little more prepared, try creating your own ‘Pooping in Public’ emergency kit. Stock it with soft and absorbent Cottonelle® Ultra Comfort Toilet Paper, Cottonelle® Flushable Wipes, air neutralizer spray, hand sanitizer, anti-diarrhea medication and even an extra pair of undies. Better to be safe than sorry!

  • Map out your fave bathrooms

  • Is there an underused restroom hidden in the mall? Maybe there’s a nice restaurant on your way to work with private restroom stalls. Make a note of the bathrooms where you feel comfortable, so you know where to go.

  • Remember, NOT going can cause serious damage

  • As food moves through your intestinal tract, liquids are absorbed into your body. The solids form poop, which is toxic. The longer you hold your poop, the more toxins your body is absorbing, which can ultimately affect your skin and your weight.

    Also, when you hold your bowel movement too long, it becomes dry and hard. Pushing it out becomes difficult and can cause anal tearing and bleeding. Even holding your urine can cause painful urinary tract infections. In other words, it’s healthier for you to keep things moving, even if it has to be in a public restroom.

  • Experience Poo-phoria

  • In their works on restroom behaviour, Josh Richmond and Dr. Anish Sheth touch on something they call ‘poo-phoria’. Dr. Sheth describes it as "The distention of the rectum that occurs with the passing of a large mass of stool causes the vagus nerve to fire. The net effect of this is a drop in your heart rate and blood pressure . . . When mild, the light-headedness can lend a sense of sublime relaxation (the 'high')." In other words, pooping can give you a slight, natural high. What could be better?

  • Speak to a medical professional

  • Experts believe that pooping anxiety is a type of social anxiety, often leading people to avoid situations and leaving their home. Please remember, if you’re experiencing serious anxiety about using a public bathroom, speak to your doctor, a medical professional or a licensed therapist.

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Then, use Cottonelle Flushable Wipes for a refreshing clean throughout the day

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