A dirty toilet always looks disgusting, but germs on a toilet seat or rim do not survive for long. The good news is, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), result from bacterial, viral or parasitic infections – these pathogens do not survive on hard surfaces like toilet seats for long.
Bacteria that cause STIs cannot survive outside the body’s mucous membrane – it is almost impossible to get these STIs from a toilet seat.
What can I contract from a public toilet seat?
Some parasites and viruses that cause different STIs can survive outside the body for a limited time which means that you can get them from a toilet seat. However, this mode of STI transmission is rare and unlikely to occur.
Viruses, fungi, and bacteria thrive better in the warm human tissues, so you are unlikely to get the STIs caused by these pathogens from a public toilet seat.
However, here are some potential exceptions;
- Although this rarely happens, a damp toilet seat can spread trichomoniasis. For this to happen, an infected person must have deposited the bacterium shortly before it comes in contact with your genital area.
- Hepatitis B infection can occur from freshly deposited blood or semen on a toilet seat, but the person must have an open wound for the virus to enter the body.
STI/STD mode of transmission
The different STIs have varying modes of transmission. However,the transmission of all STIs occurs through the following means;
- Oral-genital contact
- Skin-to-skin contact
- Genital-to-genital contact
Skin-to-skin contact occurs when infected bodily fluids like saliva or semen get shared through direct skin contact. You may not have an open sore for this transmission to occur. STIs that you can contract through skin-to-skin contact include:
- Human papillomavirus
Bacteria thrive in the mucous membrane of the rectum, vagina, penis and mouth, but they cannot survive in the air or on surfaces such as toilet seats. You can contract bacterial STIs by having oral, anal, and vaginal sex without condoms and other protective barriers.
In some cases, newborn babies can contract bacterial STIs from their mothers during childbirth. These STIs include the following;
Viruses can thrive outside the body for a short while, and their mode of transmission varies.
You can get HIV through contact with bodily fluids, including semen, breast milk, blood and breastmilk. The following are modes of HIV transmission;
- Contaminated blood transfusions
- Having sex without condoms or other barrier methods
- Nursing, pregnancy, and childbirth
- Sharing injection equipment
Hepatitis B can be transmitted through bodily fluids and contact with a toilet seat if you have an open wound that acquiredinfected semen or blood on the seat. You can also contract Hepatitis B throughthe following means;
- Sharing injection needles
- Having unprotected sex
About 40 different HPV genotypes cause an STI. You can contract these HPV types through skin-to-skin contact like vaginal, anal and oral sex. You can also get HPV through genital contact that does not involve penetration.
HPV can survive on hard surfaces for a while – you can get the virus from a toilet seat, but this rarely occurs.
- Herpes simplex virus (HSV)
The two types of HSV include:
- HSV-1 – transmitted through oral-genital contact and kissing
- HSV-2 – transmitted through anal or vaginal sex
You cannot contract any of these HSVs from a toilet seat.
Parasitic STIs include trichomoniasis and pubic lice (crabs).
You can contract trichomoniasis through vaginal sex, regardless if your partner has a vagina or penis. Pubic lice thrive in coarse body hair and can be contracted during anal or vaginal sex. In some cases, pubic lice get transmitted through contact with contaminated fabrics like towels or bedsheets.
The following can help you prevent STIs;
- Use a barrier method whenever you engage in any sexual activity
- Before having sex, have an open and honest conversation with your potential partner about your sexual history
- If you are 26 or below 26, consider taking the HPV vaccine
- Get tested and encourage your potential sex partner to do the same
- Do not share needles and other injection equipment
- If you want to get a tattoo, consider getting it from a licenced tattoo parlour
- Consider taking pre-exposure prophylaxis
The chances of getting an STI from a toilet seat are quite slim, but ensure you use clean toilets and consult your healthcare provider if you think you have contracted an STI through any means.
If you feel concerned about your sexual health, visit a private sexual health clinic in London to speak to a sexual health expert and get tested. You can get an STD test at STD Check Clinic in London. Feel free to call 020 37457523 to schedule an appointment with our sexual health expert.