Why you should never avoid going to the loo at work, according to experts

Brits are feeling embarrassed about going to the toilet at work. (Getty Images)
Brits are feeling embarrassed about going to the toilet at work. (Getty Images)

There's no doubt about it going to the toilet when other people are around is an uncomfortable experience, particularly when we need to do a number two.

We all want to be able to poop in private, but that isn't always possible considering many of us spend a large proportion of our days at work in bathrooms shared with our colleagues and worse still our boss.

It's little wonder, therefore, that Brits are developing a whole anxiety about going to the loo at work.

In fact, new research from Andrex has found that 47% of Brits feel uncomfortable going to the toilet at work, which rises to 56% among the 25 to 34-year-old age range.

It isn't just the workplace loos Brits are shunning either with the research revealing 61% feel uncomfortable going to the toilet anywhere outside of their own home and 47% refusing to poop in public.

When it comes to the reasons behind this need-to-go fear two thirds (62%) believe it is embarrassing if people know they’re going for a poo.

There's no doubt going to the loo at work can be stressful, mainly because we don't want to admit to our colleagues that we're human beings who have to, by nature, poop.

But while it is easy to understand why so many of us feel embarrassed about going to the loo at the office, there are some pretty knock-on impacts on our health of not doing so.

Studies have found that actively holding in poo can lead to bowel disease, appendicitis, and haemorrhoids, and that constipation can even increase the risk of bowel cancer.

Woman washing her hands in the work toilets. (Getty Images)
61% of Brits feel uncomfortable going to the toilet anywhere outside of their own home. (Getty Images)

What happens to your body of you don't go to the loo when you need to?

While the act of postponing a poop may seem harmless, its long-term effects on health can be less-so.

"Opening the bowels are a normal human function," explains Dr Nasir Hannan, GP at The London General Practice. "Ignoring the urge can lead to discomfort and lack of concentration, but it can also lead to the development of constipation."

Dr Hannan says constipation is defined as the loss of ability to pass stools which are then subsequently hardened, potentially leading to tears in the anal canal.

"Constipation can also lead to the veins swelling leading to haemorrhoids, which, if left untreated, can lead to a condition called faecal impaction," Dr Hannan continues. "This is where the stool is so hard that it cannot get out and this can lead to a medical emergency."

Constipation requires medical assessment and treatment by your doctor.

"Regular bowel movements will prevent constipation," Dr Hannan advises. "It is recommended to drink 6- 8 cups of water per day and to encourage regular movement and exercise.

"An ideal constitution would be to open the bowels more than three times per week and without the need to strain," he adds.

public loo
Nearly half of Brits feel uncomfortable about going to the loo at work. (Yahoo Life UK)

Tackling the toilet taboo

In order to try to address the stigma surrounding going to the toilet and address public loo anxiety Bowel Cancer UK has partnered up with Andrex to encourage the nation to have a healthier relationship with the bathroom after its survey found that 53% of people have held in a poo or wee because they felt too embarrassed to go.

A further 25% have actively avoided looking at their faeces when going to the toilet. However, looking at your poo is vital to understand your gut health and spot the symptoms of bowel cancer.

According to the charity, nearly 43,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year, but fewer than four in ten people are diagnosed in the early stages.

Worryingly, existing data from Bowel Cancer UK found that one in five Brits put off speaking to their GP about what they view as “embarrassing” bowel symptoms.

According to the NHS, some symptoms of bowel cancer include:

  • Needing to poo more or less than normal and unexplained constipation and diarrhoea

  • Blood in your poo that may look black or red

  • Bleeding from your bottom

  • Feeling like you need to poo even if you’ve just gone

  • Lump in your stomach

  • Stomach pain

  • Bloating

  • Losing weight without trying

  • Feeling fatigued

If you have seen any of these symptoms for three or more weeks, make an appointment with your GP. However, if your poo is black or dark red, or you have bloody diarrhoea call 111, and go to A&E if you have been bleeding non-stop from your bottom.

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