My article for this week's Herald and Post...
Last week I dropped into the ‘Boys Need Bins’ event in Parliament run by Prostate Cancer UK.
This campaign is pushing to get sanitary hygiene bins put in male toilets to help men coping with incontinence or those wearing a stoma.
Now I know how rubbish men can be at talking about anything remotely personal and/or medical, (and I would include myself in that) particularly something as stigmatised as male incontinence.
It really isn’t great for our physical or mental health though to be so guarded. Sometimes, the consequences of not speaking out can be devastating.
Many men over 65 have some sort of incontinence issue, yet we’re mostly too embarrassed and squeamish to acknowledge and talk about it.
As a result, these men deal with the realities of living with sanitary pads or colostomy bags whilst all around them there is very little public understanding of the challenges of their condition.
Jonathon Hall, a resident of East Hants, who I’ve come to know over the years (and standing just to my right in the picture above), is one of the campaigners behind Boys Need Bins. As a prostate cancer sufferer himself, he’s all too aware of the challenges of being out and about without access to proper facilities to change a bag or pad. He’s told me how anxious men in this situation can be about just stepping outside their front door, with some refusing to do so altogether.
Jonathan’s matter of fact approach is helping break the taboo around this issue and encouraging men to be more open. Truly inspirational.
In law, hygiene bins have to be placed in women’s toilets, but there is no such law for men’s toilets. That is despite the fact that 1 in 8 men will get prostate cancer and, of that number, 40 per cent will go on to experience incontinence as a side effect of their treatment. Approximately 400,000 men are currently living with or are recovering from prostate cancer. That’s a lot of men suffering in silence.
Boys need Bins is trying to change attitudes to this issue and encourage local authorities, leisure facilities and anywhere where there are public loos, such as service stations and pubs, to start ensuring that men have access to hygiene bins in the same way women do.
However, we all need to get better about talking about issues that make us feel uncomfortable. We need more men to go for regular prostate checks. We need incontinent men to speak out when public facilities let them down. We also need more bins for boys.
Visit: Prostatecanceruk.org for more information.