Updated: Jul 25, 2021
Since you are doing such a good job of staying hydrated because you have read our other blog posts about Self Care and Staying Hydrated - you are definitely going to need to pee at some point. If you drink as much coffee as I do upon waking up, that will probably be sooner rather than later. Furthering the problem, some parks and recreation areas closed their bathrooms because of Covid-19. There was no where to pee this past summer (2020) when out for recreational paddling. Not a dingy smelly park bathroom, not a porta potty or even a pit toilet. All of which I despise because lets face it; people are gross, but when you gotta go, you gotta go! Still, none of those options will help you if you are in a dry suit in the middle of a rescue or recovery operation or out for a cold recreational paddle, that is going to require other means of relief for sure! So how can avid water goers deal with it when nature calls?
I decided that I was sick of being stressed out over needing to pee. So I made a mental decision to do something about it. Unfortunately I still drug my feet on taking action. In the mean time our rescue team had training, it was a hot and humid June day - and we were trapped in dry suits. Our instructor came over and asked if we were staying properly hydrated because in his experience he learned that females often don't drink enough water because they don't know how or where they are going to pee while being stuck inside of a dry suit. He let us know that he had bought GoGirls for the team, plus "pee pads", adult diapers and probably some other stuff that I've thankfully been able to block out of my mind. While I still don't think I have the guts to rip open my relief zipper and pee standing up anywhere in the vicinity of my fellow water rescuers I was elated over this conversation because it was hitting the nail on the head. I knew I was dehydrated, I was thirsty and had to pee. Not a fun combination of physical feelings. The fact that this issue was recognized and talked about gave me a good feeling. If you are an instructor or a team leader, please don't be afraid to talk to your students or team members about this. If they are dehydrated and need to pee they probably aren't performing as well as they could be and are probably growing more and more miserable by the minute. Or worse yet, a senseless medical emergency is being risked.
That night after getting home I furiously searched Amazon for the perfect pee device. Reading reviews, looking at pictures and second guessing myself was a bit stressful, but finally I settled on two devices to get the job done. A Freshette and Unisex Urinal Bottle were my choices. After receiving both of them I would say I prefer the bottle to the Freshette. It just works better and I don't end up accidentally peeing on myself with it. The Freshette is nice because of its size, however I may or may not end up peeing on myself with it. Definitely practice with it at home as much as you can before trying to depend on it.
These are now the most important items for whatever adventure I am embarking on. When I got certified to SCUBA dive I learned there are two types of people, those who pee in their suit and those who lie about it! While I still don't know that I will be able to get over my pee anxiety and whip out a pee funnel to scurry off into the woods while risking someone knowing that I'm using a pee funnel and feeling super weird about it, I am at the least prepared to sneak off somewhere for a glorious pee. Hopefully being embarrassed about it will wear off. Males have no idea just how lucky they are when it comes to this topic!
Update: Winter in Pennsylvania has taught me that the above devices work better in the summer. When it's hot out you aren't going to be layered up. The winter is going to cause you to wear layers under your dry suit. Thus making it very hard to manipulate all of your clothing and properly fit a device to yourself. It might actually be impossible. Yes, I tried, and failed, then gave up on the idea of being able to pee while suited up.
Back to the research and stress phase. I began looking for devices or systems for female divers. This only lead to me being horrified at what I read and left me in disbelief that this particular product even made it to production. It involves shaving or waxing your lady parts down to the skin and using medical adhesive to glue the device in place. There is no amount of persuasion that would ever be able to convince me this is a good idea. How do you even sit down??? I don't even want to think about having to remove it. If you haven't figured it out yet the device I'm talking about is called the She-P 3.0. You can read more in depth about it here, along with some other options the author talks about. All in all the author basically comes to the conclusion that there are no perfect solutions.
This didn't satisfy me. Short of having a porta-potty or another type of portable toilet with a privacy shelter -- there had to be something. Here is what I found and plan to try.
Amazon labels it as the following: "Female urinals Ladies Urination Device with Hand-held 2000 ml Large Capacity Portable Urine Cup Urinals for Elderly Urinary Incontinence Hospital beds".
A final idea which is a bit outside the box is for a device that is actually designed for the elderly or incontinent. I am unsure how using this would play out, but it seems like it could potentially be repurposed for females trying to deal with urinating while in a dry suit and who are on land, or on a boat, or other watercraft. Pee then remove the and drain the bag. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. To view on Amazon, click here.
Hopefully I will be able to report back with a success story. Until better solutions come around operation commanders should really consider having portable toilets with privacy shelters for use by men as well as women. No one on your crew needs to be caught by the media trying to pee.
Update two: The first pictured female urinal with large capacity urine cup works nicely and comes with a long length of hose that you can either connect to the reservoir or let free flow. I haven't been bold enough to to purchase or try the last pictured item for incontinence. What I have tried instead is a device called the pStyle, https://www.thepstyle.com/ . I was skeptical of this device and only tried it because someone else bought it. I ended up shockingly surprised at how well it works. It is certainly a great device for warm weather. I haven't been able to test it yet with layers of clothing and a drysuit. However I have high hopes for it.