It’s a common speculation especially among women that STI’s can be gotten from a toilet seat. For many women, the toilet seats are the number 1 play area for STI’s like gonorrhea, syphilis etc. But how true is this, can you really get an STI from a toilet seat? To understand this, we must first define STI.
STI – Sexually transmitted infection are infections transmitted through sexual contact, caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites. As the definition suggests – this belief in its entirety is completely FALSE.
These infections whether bacterial, viral etc. all have different mode of infection and spread differently. For example, bacterial STI’s like chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis spread through infected membranes such as the vagina, penis, mouth and rectum.
Sexual health expert – Professor Basil Donovan to ABC Health & Wellbeing says “There’s nothing magical about STI’s they’re fastidious bugs which don’t like dry conditions, heat. Most organisms are quite fragile so don’t last any more than few minutes because they dry out and die”
More proof? Abigail Salyers, PhD, President of the American Society of Microbiology (ASM) to WebMD says “To my knowledge, no one has ever acquired an STD on the toilet set!”
Dr. Philip Tierno, PhD, Clinical professor in the departments of microbiology and pathology at NYU Langore Medical Center tells SELF “The top of a toilet seat is much cleaner than most people’s kitchen sinks.”
Many of the diseases caused by STI’s can only survive within a short period of time. Viruses like herpes, chlamydia and gonorrhea (caused by bacteria) only survive outside the body for a duration of 10 mins). According to the Mayo Clinic “Because the [herpes] virus dies quickly outside of the body. It’s nearly impossible to get the infection through contact with toilets, towels or other objects used by an infected person.” Same goes for HPV, HIV, pubic lice etc. – these infections are basically impossible for one to contract by sitting on public toilet seats according to the US government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For you to contract an STI from a contaminated toilet – you have to sit on the toilet immediately the virus of an infected person is deposited which the chances are close to more. Scabies and Pubic lice? The parasites do not have the anatomical structure to survive on smooth, slippery surfaces- they can cling to clothes, towels and bedclothes but definitely not on toilet seats. You’d definitely walk out of a toilet if you ever found the seat covered in blood or poop – your skin also acts as a natural barrier on a plus side if there were any you couldn’t see.
STIs primary mode of transmission is through sexual activity. Meaning, it is highly unlikely to become infected with an STI through contact with a toilet seat. The best way of preventing STI is through total abstinence from any form of sexual activity. If you must – practice safe sex. Use a condom although they don’t protect against all STIs.