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Written by

Kate Dyson

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Kate is a content specialist who is passionate about women's health. She's also mum to three kids, two dogs and unsurprisingly, a lover of wine.

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Glossary

For words you might want to know more

Loo Leash

A metaphorical term that describes the restriction women historically faced due to the lack of public toilets, and now encompasses modern-day bladder challenges and societal taboos.

Latchkey Incontinence

The sudden urge to urinate that one might experience when approaching and unlocking their front door, often seen as a psychological trigger.

Bladder Care

Delve into the 'loo leash' phenomenon, highlighting women's bladder challenges from historical restrictions to present-day solutions. Discover the impact of public toilet availability, societal taboos, and innovative products designed for bladder care.

Are you on a loo leash?

Have you heard the phrase, on the 'loo leash' before? If not, you're probably wondering what on earth it means. But for many women, especially those over 40 in the UK, the concept is all too familiar, even if the term isn’t.

It's not even a modern phrase, believe it or not. Back in the 17th and 18th centuries, the loo leash was all too familiar to women of the day too, as the concept of public toilets for women was virtually non-existent. The available facilities were only urinals, designed solely for the man about town. The implication? Women found themselves tethered to their homes, not by a tangible chain, but by the undeniable requirement of basic human need. This invisible leash limited their freedom to venture far and wide, making impromptu outings or extended trips into public spaces a strategic challenge.

Fast forward to 2023, and while we've made leaps and bounds in societal progress, the 'loo leash' continues to restrain many, albeit for evolved reasons. Let's take a look at a few challenges facing women today:

Bladder conditions

Bladder issues are no stranger to women, especially post-childbirth or as they age. Overactivity, occasional leaks, or the mere feeling of urgency can keep one dashing to the nearest loo. How many of us experience latchkey incontinence and be far too familiar with the jiggle as we arrive at our front door? Quite inconvenient, right? For many, incontinence goes beyond a jiggle and limits their life, especially socially.

Where Have All The Toilets Gone?

According to the British Toilet Association, there's been a jaw-dropping 60% reduction in public facilities over the last ten years. This isn’t just a small inconvenience; for many, it's a significant lifestyle impediment. Imagine planning your entire day, from shopping trips to park visits, around the availability of a restroom. Sure, there are other solutions to help us with leaks, like leak-proof pants or pads, but that's far from the solution and should we managing the lack of facilities personally?

This downturn in public facilities has been primarily driven by government funding cuts for local councils, might not make headlines often, but its impact is felt deeply by countless individuals. Even if you're someone without pronounced bladder issues, having fewer public restrooms available means your outings become a tad more tactical - and let's face, it, there are so many groups of people who need them; pregnant women, toddlers and children, the elderly, delivery and taxi drivers... the list goes on.

The Taboo around Toilet Issues

As if the physical challenges weren't enough, societal taboos add another layer to the conundrum. How many of us feel at ease discussing our bladder problems openly? From hushed whispers to silent endurance, many prefer to navigate these challenges in quiet solitude rather than risk embarrassment.

This silence is detrimental. Not only does it limit the sharing of helpful coping strategies and solutions, but it also perpetuates the feeling of isolation, making many believe they're battling their bladder woes alone, and physically limits social interactions, work opportunities and travel because the stigma is too much to deal with openly.

Reclaiming Freedom

Fortunately, the loo leash isn’t an unbreakable tether. As society grows more aware of these challenges, solutions have emerged to help women reclaim their freedom.

Knowledge is Power: Educating oneself on bladder health and understanding triggers can go a long way. By knowing what exacerbates one's symptoms, informed choices can be made, whether it's dietary changes, exercises, or lifestyle adjustments.

Community and Open Dialogue: The advent of online forums and platforms allows for shared experiences and advice. Here, in the cloak of anonymity if preferred, women can discuss, vent, and find solace in shared challenges, breaking the taboo one conversation at a time. Our community, Jude and Friends, is a great place to seek advice and help from others who understand how you feel.

Products That Empower: From discreet leak-proof pants that offer confidence in social settings to bladder strength supplements that address core issues, the market has seen a surge in products tailored for bladder concerns. The Squeezy App acts like your own personal pelvic floor trainer too and is well worth checking out.

Breaking the loo leash

It might seem peculiar, in an era that's seen such rapid technological advances, that we're still discussing something as fundamental as the need for frequent restroom visits. However, just as we innovate in tech, there's innovation waiting to happen in how we address everyday challenges, including those posed by the loo leash.

Tapping Technology to Tackle the Challenge

The mobile age has gifted us a plethora of apps for almost every conceivable need. From finding the nearest vegan restaurant to seeking a book club, there's probably an app for it. So, why not an app that maps out public toilets, includes reviews about their cleanliness, and perhaps even tells you if there's a queue? While some apps already tread this territory, there’s room for more sophisticated solutions. Augmented reality, anyone? Imagine pointing your phone down a street and seeing indicators for nearby restrooms! In the meantime, we wholly recommend Flush, the toilet finder app.

Education and Breaking the Silence

The longer we treat bladder issues as taboo, the longer the loo leash has power over us. Schools, community centres, and even workplaces can be platforms where discussions about bladder health are normalised. When young women grow up aware and educated about potential challenges, they're better equipped to navigate them and, more importantly, advocate for solutions.

Consider, for example, the impact of women discussing bladder care over a cup of tea, or in a breakout room at work, or even at a family gathering. It's these grassroots discussions that drive change, pushing the market to respond and innovate.

We must remember that while the loo leash serves as a metaphor for a specific challenge, it also represents larger issues of societal inclusivity and understanding, and by addressing this, countless women - and men - will be free from the anxieties and limitations of bladder conditions.

The question isn't just, “Are you on the loo leash?” but more importantly, “How can we all work together to finally break it?”

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