Female urinal

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A row of female urinals, separated by privacy screens

A female urinal is designed for the anatomy of women and intended to be used by women and girls. Different models enable urination in standing, semi-squatting, or squatting postures, always without direct bodily contact with the urinal.

Unisex urinals are distributed by various companies and can be used by females and males alike. Female urinals and unisex urinals are much less common than male urinals. Urinals are more abundant in men's and boys' public toilets than in the facilities in private homes.


Squatting urinals for female students at Government Middle School in Peramathur, Cuddalore District, Tamil Nadu, India. The urinals on the right side have privacy screens and are used by older girls.

Construction and use[edit]

Body position taken by women for urination into many female urinals: floating half squat or ″skier position″.

In the 1970s, Alexander Kira, professor of architecture and sanitary engineering at Cornell University, conducted studies on urination behaviour of both genders. He pursued the goal of developing sanitary fixtures that are adapted to the human body and its needs, breaking with conventional design specifications.[1][2]

Two different designs of wall-mounted, female urinals (at an exhibition)
Advice for the use of a female urinal in a public restroom (in Frankfurt, Germany)

On a conventional toilet bowl, the "correct" use is determined by the shape of the sanitary fixture. Amongst other things, Kira investigated the body positions that males and females prefer to use when no external guidelines are given, for example while urinating in nature. He examined the trajectories of the urine stream and its controllability, as well as comfort and health aspects of different body positions. While males usually urinate in a standing posture and direct the stream forward by hand, females prefer to take a squatting position. The stream is controlled by the posture of the entire body and is directed vertically downwards to slightly oblique backwards. This position is generally the most comfortable for females and is associated with the lowest spray dispersion.[3][4][5][6]

The female urinal models offered today are conceptually similar to each other and follow the shape and design of male urinals but are more closely tailored to the female anatomy. One difference is that the female stands with her back toward the urinal and adopts a half-squatting position, which is also sometimes called the "skier's posture" or "hovering stance". This is based on the posture that females generally adopt in conventional public toilets if they are dirty or physical contact is not desired.[3][6]

In countries where squat toilets are the norm, female urinals can also be found as a ceramic pan at floor level. This kind of urinal would be used in a full squat position to avoid splashing back of urine. In the past, models that were used in a full squat (similar to Asian squat-style toilets) have been developed to the prototype stage[7] or brought to the market, like the "Peeandgo" by Chen-Karlsson, but those could not establish themselves.[8] At present, all female urinals available on the western market are wall-mounted and used in a half-squat, "skiing" position.[9]

Advantages compared to toilets for urination[edit]

Urinals for female users could potentially have some of the same advantages as urinals for male users compared to toilets (with regards to urination):[10][3]

  • lower costs,
  • simpler maintenance,
  • smaller space requirements (several urinals may be installed on the floor space of a single toilet cubicle),
  • reduced water consumption for flushing compared to flush toilets (waterless urinals can even function without any flushing water),
  • more hygienic, contact-free urination process (and no risk of soiling with feces from previous users).
  • faster use, and
  • easier recycling of nutrients as fertilizer.[11]
Public toilets are mainly used for the purpose of urination[10]

Approximately 90% of public toilet use is exclusively for urination (as compared to defecation).[10] Due to the increased number of units in the same amount of floor space, there is a faster process with shorter queue in front of public toilets. By installing urinals, up to 30% more people can use the toilet facilities at the same time.[12]

Female urinals could be possibly suitable for use in public toilets which are highly frequented during peak hours and which are likely to attract large numbers of visitors, especially places like schools, universities, discotheques, shopping centers, and bus stations. In addition, mobile female urinals have been developed for use at open-air events, festivals, as well as free-standing units for public spaces.[13]

A study conducted in Australia in 2011 showed that more than half of the women interviewed would use a urinal if it were available.[10] In the meantime, demand is increasingly being made for "urination equality" (potty parity)  – equal rights for men and women. A grassroots urination equality campaign in the Netherlands caused a sensation in 2017, with women using urinals in men's toilets.[14]


Lady urinal of the company J. L. Mott Iron Works, 1897

Recent developments in creating urinals for females and for use by both sexes are not a revolution in sanitation, as some manufacturers suggest. Rather, it is the renaissance of a concept whose roots lie in the 19th century. At that time, during the early days of public toilet development, female urinals were already being installed and urinals were not thought of as being exclusively for males. For example, the 1897 German Handbuch der Architektur (handbook of architecture) shows "women's urinals with automatic rinsing", although at that time the advantages were also seen in the less costly installation and water savings:[3]

Pissoirs for the female sex have even been successfully used in recent years. These consist of so-called "urinettes" or porcelain sitting basins with automatic flushing and are set up especially in the waiting halls of railway stations, in shops where many girls are employed, in theatres where there is a large choir or ballet. ... Such "urinettes" have the great fortune of being able to be placed where a 2-inch drainpipe is present, while the rinsing lavatories usually used by women for urination require a 4-inch waste pipe.[15]

— Handbuch der Architektur: "Entwässerungsanlagen amerikanischer Gebäude", 1897

At that time, the female urinal was unable to establish itself in Germany, as they were installed only occasionally. In 1902, on the initiative of the City Building Office, a decision was taken in Munich to install women's urinals throughout the city in public convenience stores.[3] A letter to the Kirchmair Board of Directors, for example, explains the plenary decision of the Baumagistrat on 13 February 1902:

Sketch of the Munich building city council of a women's urinal, planned for a comprehensive introduction to the public toilets of the city, 1906
German women's urinals (by Villeroy and Boch), 1908

It was suggested by several parties that the various classes of toilets should be abolished, that the establishment should be uniform and that a fee of 5 Pfennig should be charged for all toilets, with the exception of the free toilets, (this corresponds to the II. class), and that free toilets should be set up in all existing sanitary facilities. The construction of women's urinals, such as those found in other cities, was also mentioned.[3]

— Munich City Archive 1902

This idea was pursued further, so that the documents of January 13, 1906 contained plans for concrete implementation:

The basins should be made of cast iron with enamel coating. A seat board is not to be provided. On the other hand, it might be advisable to mount brass rods above the basin, which extend from one wall to another and are fixed there. Older and weaker people could gain support at this pole. An intermittent rinse may be required for both pools every 10 minutes. ... For the first attempts to set up "women's urinals", it may be advisable to choose the locations of such urinals near playgrounds so that nannies or other female supervisors can use the same ones.[3]

— Munich City Archive 1906
Women's urinals of the Manstone company from the 1940s

In the architectural guide "München und seine Bauten" (Munich and its buildings) from 1912, the women's urinals in three public toilets (Lerchenfeldstraße, Ottostraße and Max-Weber-Platz) were mentioned in the chapter on "Nursing homes". In contrast to the actual toilets, these were intended as "freehold toilets", i.e. for free use. They enjoyed great popularity and were highly frequented. In the course of the 1910s, there was no further expansion, probably because the free use did not generate profits to the city's treasury funds. Finally, the "Freiaborte" (free public lavatories) for women were converted into institutions with costs. A later proposal by the first female city councillor of Munich in 1922 for the reintroduction of those free urinals were already fended off in the first place by the purely male directorate of the "Bade- und Bedürfnisanstalten" establishments.[3]

The development at the turn of the century was not followed up in Germany and these first approaches were increasingly forgotten.[3]

Developments since the 1970s[edit]

Until the 1970s, few female urinals were available in the US from different manufacturers, such as the Sanistand of American Standard Companies. In the 1980s and 1990s, various concepts and prototypes were developed, although most of them were not developed beyond the design stage. Female urinals have only been used again since the turn of the millennium and are marketed commercially, primarily in Europe.[3]

From 1950 to 1974, the American Standard company offered the mass-produced "Ladies' Home Urinal".[citation needed] It did not provide significant advantages over conventional toilets, because it used just as much floor space and water for flushing. Its main selling point was that it was specifically designed for women to use without touching.

Several other designs have been tried since then, but they required the user either to hover awkwardly or to bring her genitals into close contact with the fixture. Most have not caught on. Current clothes fashions, such as panty hose and slacks, inhibit females from using them because they do not want their garments to touch the urinal or the floor. Often, females have little experience with urinals and do not know whether to approach them forward or backward.[citation needed]

Standard trough models intended for use with a specialized funnel have been introduced with some success, at outdoor festivals such as Glastonbury, to reduce dwell times and to alleviate long queues. In 2011, a portable female urinal—the Pollee—was introduced at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark and was received enthusiastically by female festival visitors.[citation needed]

Current situation[edit]

Advertisement for women's urinals in front of a public toilet in Frankfurt/Main, Germany

Urinals are being developed that can be used by all sexes (males, females and third sexes). While urinals for men and boys can be found almost everywhere in public toilets, unisex and female urinals are still niche products.[6] Many people feel that this should be left alone because of obvious biological differences that make the use of urinals far more convenient for the male population than they would be for the female population. According to Mete Demiriz, professor of sanitary technology at the Westphalian University of Applied Sciences in Gelsenkirchen, economic considerations and social conventions also prevent the wider installation of female urinals:[16]

It is not profitable for the manufacturers, as they would sell less normal toilets with every female urinal. The selection and production of public toilets is also a male domain. If the women don't get involved, it won't work. Once upon a time there was a large German company in my laboratory that wanted to produce my development. There were also secretaries who tried them out. Then the wife of the CEO said, "What nonsense, I always sit on it at home." That's when it died again. But of course it's not meant for home!

— Mete Demiriz[16]

A study in 1999 surveyed 600 women to discover how interested they were in having female urinals which would be used in a standing position. The majority of respondents indicated a desire to have such facilities.[17]

Urinals for women/girls or both sexes[edit]

Female and unisex urinals in public toilets[edit]

Women's urinal "Lady P" at the Dortmund airport, Germany

In the 1990s, a number of prototypes were developed for female urinals, of which only three were finally ready for the market and are now used: the "Lady P" by Sphinx Sanitair,[18][19] the "Lady Loo" by GBH[20][21] and the "Girly" by Ceramica Catalano[22], which has won several design awards. Since the 2000s, female urinals have been introduced in a few European public toilets.[3][16][18]

In the course of the development towards unisex toilets, designers and developers are increasingly faced with the challenge of creating gender-appropriate solutions. Models have now been developed that can be used comfortably by females and males alike.[23][24][25]

In the future, Berlin will have unisex toilets and unisex urinals, to be used by both sexes.[26][27] With the expiration of the operation contract for public toilets with Wall GmbH in Berlin, a new toilet concept for public spaces in Berlin is being developed. Urinals that can be used by both sexes are an essential part of the future unisex toilet facilities. [28][29]

There are a number of public restrooms in the city that offer exclusively men's urinals and completely exclude women and their toilet needs. According to the Senate, this is unacceptable in terms of equality. Because you don't want a crowd of pissing men in the city, the facilities are cleverly not closed down, but converted into unisex toilets that can be used by all genders[...] Berlin has now taken up the problem heroically and is planning urinals for women and men in all public toilets. This is part of the toilet concept for Berlin, which was presented last week by the Senate Department for Environment, Transport and Climate Protection, together with the company Zebralog and the Technical University of Berlin. The advantage of the unisex urinal is that it catches women's and men's urine stream earlier and thus avoids the otherwise unavoidable splashing and is thus simply more hygienic. Therefore, the urinal can be conveniently used by both sexes. For gender justice[...]![30]

— Wienerin

Mobile unisex urinals for outdoor use[edit]

Pollee - a mobile female urinal for outdoor use

The world's first mobile urinal for women was presented at the Roskilde Festival 2011 under the name of Pollee and proved to be a great success. The Pollee-Urinal is primarily intended for open-air events, especially music festivals and is distributed as a women's urinal, but can also be used as a unisex urinal in principle.[13][31]

Problems in implementation[edit]

At present, two different arrangements are currently being implemented in practice: in a row arrangement (usually with a screen as a separating element), comparable to male urinals, and in cabins or booths, as in classic toilets. The main advantage compared to the classic toilet, the compact space requirements, is lost. With a row arrangement, the number of facilities increases noticeably and thus a faster use becomes possible. However, this is not the case with the booth arrangement, in which a classic toilet bowl is simply replaced by a urinal. The booth solution is often put forward with the argument that female use of open urinals is socially unacceptable and associated with embarrassment. However, urinating in the company of others can be a problem for some males as well. There is always the possibility to switch to a classical toilet stall if that the use of urinals is associated with shame (e.g., in the case of paruresis).[3][16][32]

Unisex-Urinals (2) which could be used by both men and women, combine features of a female (1) and male (3) only urinal

This problem arises all the more in the context of the increasing development towards unisex toilets for males and females. A pooling of toilets raises the question of how urinals should be arranged for both sexes in the room. While toilets are usually housed in booths with lockable doors, urinals are usually installed freely in a row in gender-separated toilets. This construction method requires less space and thus allows more people to urinate at the same time while promoting better hygiene and economics, which is currently one of the main advantages of male urinals. One possibility would be to continue offering urinals in rows. These could, whether separated into male and female urinals or as unisex urinals, be separated by so-called pubic walls.[33]

However, it is questionable whether the lower level of privacy compared to conventional toilets would be accepted. Due to socio-cultural conventions, the open use of urinals by men/boys in front of women/girls would likely create awkwardness for both genders and would currently seem strange and contrary to common morals and etiquette for many users. There are even more practical issues for females, such as women/girls needing toilet paper, having to lower their pants, and sometimes tending to their menstrual hygiene needs while going to the toilet for urination.[citation needed]

An alternative would be to accommodate urinals for both sexes in cabins or to continue offering urinals for males only.[16] However, this would at least limit the above-mentioned advantages of the urinals for females. Accordingly, the German lawyer and author Marcus Werner sees a significant disadvantage in unisex toilets if these would lead to the elimination of urinals in classic row order:[34]

Therefore, it would be very, very sad if the unisex toilet trend would end up causing men to have to queue up because every urinal would be housed in a cabin, which would dramatically reduce the number of facilities. That would be a total waste of time, calculated in terms of gender. Men lose time without women winning. There can be unisex urinals here. But please use the ergonomically wall-mounted urinals in a row. That would take the pressure off everyone.[34]

— Marcus Werner

Urinals arranged in cabins have not been popular, since the advantages compared to conventional toilets were not obvious, given the unchanged space requirement.[32] After 13 years, the four ladies' urinals in the Salzburg Congress Center were removed in August 2015 due to a lack of interest. They have been replaced by conventional toilets.[35]

Wall mounted urinals that are usable by men and women in open row arrangement

In the unisex toilets planned for the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin (Texas) in 2017,[36] the urinals are to be located in an area separated from the entrance area by a door. These are designed as unisex urinals and are arranged in open rows within this range.[36][37] This would allow men and women to use side-by-side urinals in this room, while those who prefer to not see persons of the opposite sex peeing may use traditional toilet cabins nearby. According to Richard Weiss, the architect who is planning this restroom, this would create the greatest possible freedom of choice for all genders:

The ultimate goal is that everyone should be able to do what they want to do, where they want to do it.

— Alamo Drafthouse architect Richard Weiss

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Penner, Barbara (October 2013). "Designed-In Safety: The radical reformers who sought to redesign the American bathroom". Places Journal. 
  2. ^ Alter, Lloyd (15 July 2011). "The History of the Bathroom Part 5: Alexander Kira and Designing For People, Not Plumbing". Treehugger. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Möllring, B. (2003): Toiletten und Urinale für Frauen und Männer: die Gestaltung von Sanitärobjekten und ihre Verwendung in öffentlichen und privaten Bereichen. Dissertation at the Universität der Künste Berlin, Faculty of Design (PDF-document)
  4. ^ Kira, A. K. (1976): The bathroom. Penguin Books ISBN 0-14-004371-3
  5. ^ Noren, Laura (10 December 2010). "Urine Trajectories by Sex: Alexander Kira". The Society Pages. 
  6. ^ a b c Gershenson, O., & Penner, B. (Eds.)(2009): Ladies and gents: Public toilets and gender. Temple University Press, ISBN 159213940X
  7. ^ Demiriz, M. (2010). Female urinals. In Proceedings of the CIB W062 2010–36th International Symposium of Water Supply and Drainage for Buildings. pdf-file
  8. ^ "Peeandgo, The Lady Urinal with a Splash of Gold". Gizmodo. 
  9. ^ German Engineers Want to Bring Gender Equality to Public Toilets. Katie Van Syckle, The Cut, 12 August 2017. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  10. ^ a b c d Kyriakou, D., & Jackson, J. (2011): We Know Squat About Female Urinals. Plumbing Connection, (Autumn 2011), 54 (PDF-document)
  11. ^ Jönsson; et al. (2004). "Guidelines on the Use of Urine and Faeces in Crop Production. 35p" (PDF). Ecological Sanitation Research of the Stockholm Environment Institute. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2004. Retrieved 20 May 2018. 
  12. ^ Ghent University (17 July 2017). "Researchers study lengths of restroom queues". Phys,org. 
  13. ^ a b Etherington, Rose (15 July 2011). "Pollee by UiWE". dezeen. 
  14. ^ Baars, Renske (23 September 2017). "Weinig animo onder vrouwen voor Actie Zeikwijf, toch succes". AD. 
  15. ^ Handbuch der Architektur, Ergänzungsheft zum 3. Teil, "Entwässerungsanlagen amerikanischer Gebäude", Stuttgart : Bergsträsser, 1897. – Getr. Zählung
  16. ^ a b c d e "Der Name 'Frauenpissoir' kann abschrecken". jetzt. 9 August 2017. 
  17. ^ Carol Olmert (2008). Bathrooms Make Me Nervous: A Guidebook for Women with Urination Anxiety. CJOB Publications. p. 146. ISBN 0615240240. 
  18. ^ a b "Check out our Lady P urinals exclusively at Lillies Bordello". Sonas Bathrooms. 30 March 2017. 
  19. ^ Edut, Ophira (August 1999). "TheLadyP". Ms. 
  20. ^ "Lady Loo". gbhgroup. 2014. 
  21. ^ "Lady Loo 2" (PDF). gbhgroup. 
  22. ^ "Girly Urinal". Stylepark. 
  23. ^ Seth, Radhika (24 September 2010). "Men & Women – We Pee Together". Yanko Design. 
  24. ^ "Captain". Uridan. 
  25. ^ Schäfer, Sandra von; Koltermann, Maik (6 January 2018). "„Gender-Wahnsinn"? Erste Unisex-Toiletten für die Schanze". Mopo. 
  26. ^ Wadhawan, Julia (7 August 2017). "Toilettenkonzept für Berlin: Öffentliche Toiletten bekommen Urinale auch für Frauen". bento. 
  27. ^ Wirch, Mirko (9 August 2017). "Revolution im Stehen: Berlin führt Pissoirs für Frauen ein". Energy. 
  28. ^ "Im Stehen auf Matteo Thuns Designerstück pinkeln". Tegernseer Stimme. 
  29. ^ Weber, Markus (8 August 2017). "Vertrag mit Wall läuft aus: Neues Toilettenkonzept für Berlin". V&W. 
  30. ^ red (11 August 2017). "In Berlin dürfen Frauen künftig im Stehen pinkeln". Weinerin. 
  31. ^ Urgent Agency (2012). "Pollee - the female urinal at Roskilde Festival". Vimeo. 
  32. ^ a b Stang, Michael von (28 February 2017). "Urinal für Frauen". Deutschlandfunk. 
  33. ^ Pubic Wall advertised
  34. ^ a b Werner, Marcus (9 August 2017). "Berlins Pissoire für Frauen: ein gutes 'Geschäfts-Modell'?". WirtschaftsWoche. 
  35. ^ "Kongresshaus: Damen-Urinale werden entfernt". Orf.at. 12 August 2015. 
  36. ^ a b c Holley, Peter (26 May 2016). "One Texan's solution to the transgender bathroom battle: 'All-gender urinals'". The Washington Post. 
  37. ^ "Alamo Drafthouse founder proposes gender-neutral bathroom design". Fox News. 25 May 2016. 

External links[edit]


  • Gershenson, O., & Penner, B. (Eds.)(2009): Ladies and gents: Public toilets and gender. Temple University Press, ISBN 159213940X
  • Möllring, B. (2003): Toiletten und Urinale für Frauen und Männer: die Gestaltung von Sanitärobjekten und ihre Verwendung in öffentlichen und privaten Bereichen. Dissertation at the Universität der Künste Berlin, Faculty of Industrial Design, (PDF)
  • Kyriakou, D., & Jackson, J. (2011): We Know Squat About Female Urinals. Plumbing Connection, (Autumn 2011), 54 (PDF)

Media covering female and unisex urinals[edit]

Criticism of the concept[edit]