Public health experts are calling for fair provision of public toilets for women, saying the aim should be to have two female loos to every male one.
With more urinals than cubicles, men – unlike women – rarely queue, a Royal Society for Public Health report says.
It blames the closure of hundreds of council-run toilets for deterring some people from leaving the house.
The government said it was down to councils to manage their resources and provide necessary services for people.
The Royal Society’s report says that people with health problems or a disability are most affected by the lack of public conveniences.
It adds that public toilets “should be considered as essential as streetlights, roads and waste collection”.
But it said the lack of facilities in the UK was affecting equality, mobility, fitness and other aspects of health – yet no-one wanted to pay for them.
In a survey of more than 2,000 adults for the report, two in five people with a medical condition requiring frequent trips to the toilet, said they didn’t feel able to go out as often as they wanted because of “loo leash”.
In some US states and Canada, attempts have been made to introduce “potty parity” legislation to reflect the longer amount of time women need when using the toilet.