Can Women Catch Diseases Off Toilet Seats?

Many women are skeptical about using public toilets because they fear to pick up Sexually Transmitted Diseases like chlamydia, herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis, and other genital infections.  If they use these toilets, most of them end up crouching instead of sitting on the toilet seat.

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So is this claim true?

It’s very unlikely to catch any contagious infections from toilet seats because most of the STIs cannot survive on the cold surfaces; they cannot live outside the human body.  They also often transferred via contact with infected membranes and open cuts.

HIV and Hepatitis B do not readily transmit through intact skin like and parasites are usually spread through sexual contact or by contact by infected person clothing or towels.

There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that someone can catch a venereal disease from using a public toilet.

The only way you can get an STI from a public toilet is by rubbing a mucous membrane or open wound all over the fluids left by someone who used the toilet previously.

The only STI with a plausibility of being transmitted to persons via a public toilet seat is an STI parasite.

Apart from being transmitted through sex, they can be picked from contact with moist or damp objects like a toilet seat, if the genitals are in close contact with the moist object.

But as we said earlier, toilet seats don’t provide an ideal environment for a parasite to live or reproduce. Also, to be infected your genitals must be in close contact with the parasite while still alive on the toilet seat.

The infections you can get from using a public toilet seat

Even though the chance of getting STIs like gonorrhea or chlamydia is near to zero, there are other bacteria you can get from toilet seats.

Here are the infections you might get:

E. coli (Escherichia coli) is often found in feces. Toilets seats provide a suitable breeding area for these bacteria.  The bacteria is usually located in your gut, but if you’re subjected to it from non-porous toilet seats, then you can suffer from abdominal cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Streptococcus is a bacterium that we usually carry on our skin. If you share a toilet with someone carrying the bacteria, then you might become colonized by the bacteria.   The bacteria cause bronchial, pneumonia, and strep throat. Many bathrooms and toilets harbor this bacterium.

Shigella bacteria are transmitted between people when they don’t wash their hands thoroughly.  The infections of these bacteria are alike to that of E. coli and they get transmitted when an infected person’s feces contaminate a toilet seat, lids, and handles.  

How to protect yourself from picking up bacteria from public toilets

Luckily there are numerous ways to prevent yourself from contracting bacteria in the public toilet, including:

Regulate what you go with to the toilet, especially your smartphone. If you carry any belongings into the toilet, just leave your smartphone in your pocket or purse. And if you use it in the toilet, wipe it with alcohol-based wipes.

Don’t put your purse on the restroom surface. Place it on a hook, avoid placing them in restroom surfaces completely.

Wash your hand thoroughly after using public toilets if you want to avoid catching as many germs and bacteria as possible.

Dry your hand with your towel or use it to switch off the faucet and open or close the toilets door. The fewer restroom surfaces you come into contact with, the less your exposure to bacteria and germs.

Although it’s nearly impossible to contract an STI from a public toilet seat, many bacteria are living in public bathrooms and toilets. Therefore, it’s wise to follow precautions to minimize your exposure to bacteria as much as possible.

References

https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/sexually-transmitted-infections-(stis)

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0028132

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4991899/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1744865/

https://www.cdc.gov/std/herpes/stdfact-herpes.htm

https://www.cleaninginstitute.org/sites/default/files/assets/1/AssetManager/2005%20Hand%20Hygiene%20Survey%20Key%20Findings.pdf

https://aem.asm.org/content/81/2/765.full

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