A nervous woman sitting in a public bathroom stall.

Tips for Covering Odor and Noise in Public Restrooms

I have been talking openly and honestly about having inflammatory bowel disease for years now. I guess that would make most people assume that I am not embarrassed about it in any way. Unfortunately for me, that’s not true.

Unable to tell if I need to use the bathroom or pass gas with a j-pouch

Many of you will already know that I only had ulcerative colitis for a few weeks before having surgery to remove my colon. I chose to have a j-pouch. Many people who have a j-pouch, including me, can no longer tell whether they just need to pass wind, or whether they actually need to go to the toilet.

This resulted in only ever being able to pass wind while sitting on the loo, and OH MY GOD... The sound! All of the accumulated wind that was coming out of me would reverberate in the toilet bowl, and I was certain that people far and wide must be able to hear it! OK, maybe not so much far and wide, but the neighbors at least!

Embarassed of the noises in the bathroom with a j-pouch

I was so embarrassed that I would make my partner turn the volume up on the TV, and shut all of the doors behind me in a bid to prevent him from hearing me in the bathroom. Even then, I would often return to find him giggling.

It wasn’t so much that he found the noise funny, but he found my efforts to prevent him from hearing it, for him to still hear it anyway, funny. Once, we went on holiday, and I hadn’t considered the fact that the toilet was just one door away from our room, and so I made him put headphones in! THAT is how embarrassed I was!

The smell in the bathroom after this surgery

Then there’s the smell. The colon must do most of the work when it comes to removing the odor from our waste because the smell was at least three times my poop, pre-surgeries! My bathroom window was always open, and I had lots of sprays to hand, but I still banned my partner from entering the bathroom for at least ten minutes after I’d come out!

I am pleased to report that I am over it now, and also living with a stoma, so the reverberating wind is no longer a problem.

Tips I found helpful for smell and odor

What I want to share with you today are a few tips and tricks that I picked up, which may help if you’re anxious about any of the issues above, particularly in public restrooms.

Tips to reduce sound

  • Turn on the hand dryer when entering the toilet, and get to work quickly – if you have an understanding friend, get them on hand dryer duty! I often had a friend stand there repeatedly pressing the hand dryer!
  • Flush the toilet (and mind you don’t get a wet bottom), before you go, and even during if it’s a long one!
  • If the sound is often the “splash” into the bowl, line it with toilet paper before you go!

How to mask odors in the bathroom

  • Mini air freshening sprays are available to buy online and in some supermarkets. Spray before, during, and after if that makes you feel better!
  • You can also get mini odor eliminators for in the bowl, so you spray before you go, and a lot of the odor gets trapped in the bowl, and a pleasant smell is released.
  • Think ahead. Certain foods (fish immediately springs to my mind as an ostomate) will result in more odor. So, if you know you’re going out and may need to use a shared bathroom, avoid these. You might also notice that some foods even reduce odor, so that’s even better if planning ahead!

I do hope some of these tips will be useful to you in the future. If you have some of your own that I haven’t mentioned, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

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