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19 Jun 2023

Boys need bins too


Why are sanitary bins only found in women's toilets?

There is a growing need for proper places of disposal for men.

It is estimated that around one in four men – and half of all women - will suffer some form of incontinence in our lifetime. As our populations age, the adult sanitary product industry is growing rapidly and, in 2020, overtook baby diaper sales in the United States.

But have public, retail and leisure spaces adapted to meet the needs of consumers as they age? And a lack thereof could be considered as a version of elder abuse.

Sanitary bins are commonplace in women's toilets - but what happens if you're a man? Although women are more likely to suffer incontinence following pregnancy and/or menopause, many men do too and will have reason to use a sanitary bin, usually due to prostate issues.

In the United Kingdom, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Bladder and Bowel Continence Care highlighted how the pandemic badly affected continence services for all ages. Public toilets too were closed, many never to re-open.

Bladder and bowel conditions are very common in the UK, affecting more than one in five people – and yet it is not a subject openly talked about. More common than hay fever, the symptoms can significantly affect everyday lives.

The Parliamentary Group’s purpose is to give a voice to those people affected by bladder and bowel control issues, to understand the challenges faced by those living with the condition or caring for someone who does.

The project’s long-term aim is to open up conversations about what can be a very sensitive topic, and lay the groundwork to initiate positive, meaningful and enduring change, with the potential to make a real difference to people’s lives.

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Date Published: June 2023

To be reviewed: June 2026

Sanitary stigma

The opportunity exists for New Zealand to follow suit.

It is estimated that there are in total 1.1 million people in New Zealand aged 15 years or over who have either urinary or faecal incontinence or both. Of these approximately 1.08 million live in the community and 25,300 in aged residential care.

The stigma around using sanitary products further limits people's ability to go out. This lack of easy access to more inclusive facilities negatively impacts health and wellbeing.

While it is definitely more likely for women to have urinary incontinence, men also suffer from this condition at an unprecedented rate, but for very different reasons.

While urinary incontinence is a direct result of a prostate issue in men, women can have this condition for a number of different reasons.

Types of urinary incontinence include:

  • Stress. Urine leaks when you exert pressure on your bladder by coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercising or lifting something heavy.
  • Urge.
  • Overflow.
  • Functional.
  • Mixed.
  • Over activity.