How to Share a College Dorm Bathroom

Sharing a Bathroom With Roommates When You Have IBD Can Be a Challenge

Unfortunately, most of us don’t have the means to have our very own private bathroom, especially when we're young and going to school. That means we must share! Sharing a bathroom with other people when you have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can be stressful, frustrating, and anxiety provoking.

Young people, especially those in college, often have to share a bathroom with three or more other people—sometimes at the same time. Those people might be friends, or they might be strangers (and the jury is out on which one is worse). The last thing a person with IBD needs is more stress, so it's best to get over the unpleasantness right at the beginning and make your situation understood.

Here are some ways you can help yourself and your bathroom mates co-exist more peacefully.


Tell Your Roommates You Have IBD

Man runs to bathroom toilet on date
Peter Cade / Getty Images

You must explain that you will need to use the facilities often—and sometimes in a hurry. They may need to vacate the bathroom on occasion, at a moment’s notice. If you let them know it's just part of your condition and not really a very big deal, it shouldn't be a big barrier.


Tell Your Roommates When You’re Flaring

If you think you’re going to end up spending the night huddled on the floor next to the toilet because your IBD is flaring, let everyone in the house know. Most healthy adults will even have to do this on occasion because of the stomach flu or food poisoning. In time, you may be the one helping them when they’re sick.


Hang an Opaque Shower Curtain

If your roommates don’t mind, you can come in and use the toilet if they are in the shower. Hanging a shower curtain that you can't see through adds a layer of privacy back into the situation. This works well even if you’re just sharing a bathroom with your significant other.


Keep the Bathroom Clean

If you have explosive diarrhea, you may make a mess. Cleaning up may be hard for you to do when you feel sick, but make the effort whenever it is possible. Even if it’s just a promise to your roommates that you’ll clean the bathroom when you feel a bit better (maybe the next day), make sure you stay on top of this one.


Keep the Bathroom Smelling Fresh

Candles, sprays, automatic air fresheners, or gels—take your pick. But use some kind of air freshener if you need it, and keep it available in the bathroom at all times.


Keep the Bathroom Well-Stocked with Paper

If you have IBD, you’re going to use more toilet paper than other people. Keep a fresh roll close to the commode at all times, and keep the cupboard stocked with your favorite brand. Wet wipes won't hurt, either!


Install a Bathroom Fan

In cases of temporary housing, such as dorms, this is not going to be possible. However, this may be an option in apartments, condos, or houses (even rentals). It really does help move out odors and mask noise. (Oh, and it’s good for blasting out humidity after a shower, too.) Talk to your landlord or the owner of the house and find out if you can make this little improvement.


Be Considerate

You’ll want to be considerate of your roommates whenever you can and give them their time and privacy in the bathroom, too. Of course, you should expect the same consideration from them. If things aren't going well, you'll need to hold a brief meeting to get any problems straightened out.

By Amber J. Tresca
Amber J. Tresca is a freelance writer and speaker who covers digestive conditions, including IBD. She was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at age 16.