The debate about whether one can catch an STD from a public toilet seat has been raging for a long time now. Health forums are full of threads with different opinions. Health experts have written about it on their blogs and newsletters, but still the debate persists. Isn’t it time we laid it to rest once and for all? Can you get an STD from public toilet seats? Are public toilet seats safe enough or would you rather relief yourself hovering peculiarly over the toilet seat?
This article aims to clear the truths, myths and relationship between public toilets and sexually transmitted diseases.
Some people, especially ladies, do not sit on a public toilet seat for fear that there are scary germs lurking on the toilet seat ready to get them infected with untreatable STDS. They will avoid public toilets at all costs. If they are ultimately forced to use one, they use peculiar postures in the bathroom to make sure that no part of their body comes into contact with the toilet seat. Is your fear of catching a disease from a public toilet seat far-fetched or is it real?
It is possible but…
First things first. Thinking that you can catch an STD from a toilet seat is not far-fetched. There might be all manner of germs and bacteria lurking on those public toilet seats in your workplace or at the gas station toilet. The common bugs you will find on a toilet seat range from common viruses like Hepatitis A and the common cold virus to other unfamiliar suspects like E. coli, streptococcus, Shigella bacteria. There could also be a multitude of other sexually transmitted microorganisms responsible for STIs like chlamydia and herpes. A public restroom, in general, offers a rich breeding ground for germs, viruses, and bacteria.
However, before you swear by the moon and the stars that this is the last time you are setting foot into a public toilet, keep in mind that the toilet seat is the least likely way of catching an STI. Many bacteria and viruses that cause STDS cannot survive for more than a few minutes outside the human body. For an infection to occur, the microorganism has to be transferred from the toilet seat into your urethra through the genital tract or a through a cut on your buttocks or thighs. While there is a slight possibility of this happening, it is highly unlikely.
But can you get herpes from a toilet seat?
This is one of the commonest myths about public toilet seats and STDs. Many people tend to believe that they can catch herpes from the toilet seat and other surfaces; this is a myth.
There are two types of herpes: HSV1 and HSV2.
HSV1 (oral herpes) comes from physical contact with an infected person. Kissing someone who has cold sores will most probably give you the virus. In fact, if you’ve ever had cold sores, you will most likely test positive for HSV1. HSV1 usually lasts for a week. HSV2, on the other hand, mostly comes from having sexual intercourse with an infected person. In both cases, the virus, even when treated, remains in the person’s body until the next outbreak.
Both types of herpes are highly contagious, which is why the myth that one can get herpes from as toilet seat persists. The herpes virus is very unstable. It will begin to disintegrate and die the moment it leaves the human body. The slightest change in temperature renders the herpes simplex virus (HSV) useless. The only plausible way you can get infected with herpes is through skin-to-skin contact (kissing, oral sex or sexual intercourse), not surface-to-skin contact.
Even the STD viruses, such as HIV and hepatitis virus, which can remain stable for extended periods of time after leaving the human body are not easily transmittable via surface-to-skin contact. Both HIV and hepatitis are transmitted through the bloodstream. They would need a point of entry into your bloodstream before they can infect you. So, unless you have wounds on your buttocks and thighs, you’d be pretty safe from these too.
Be cautious when you are getting into a sexual relationship. Get tested and get to know your partner’s sexual history before you decide to get sexually involved with him or her. If your partner is infected with herpes, do not have sex with them without protection. Stock some condoms and dental dams for those steamy nights. [Read more…] about Can You Get an STD From a Toilet Seat?