Research shows there’s basically no risk of contracting an STD from a toilet seat.
Let’s be honest, public restrooms can be a bit of a nightmare. But are there actual health risks associated with using public restrooms? Can you catch STDs from a toilet seat? Or is this a bit of an urban legend? We understand that the idea of using a public toilet is enough to make anyone wonder. The quick answer to this question is, no, you can’t get an STD from a toilet seat.
The question goes along with the myth that placing toilet paper on a public toilet seat helps stop you from coming into contact with germs. Viruses like herpes, chlamydia, and gonorrhea can only live outside of the body for about 10 seconds. In fact, the seat of a toilet is much cleaner than most people’s kitchen sinks. We see this question asked a lot, especially from college students living in dorm rooms with communal bathrooms or people who have to use public restrooms frequently.
Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale Medical School, states that most of the microbiological “bad guys” cannot live outside human tissue. Skin-to-skin contact and bodily fluids are way more dangerous.
Herpes is commonly thought to be transmittable through contact with infected surfaces, but the virus is incredibly unstable. Immediately after leaving the body, the herpes virus begins to die. Even the slightest temperature change renders HSV intransmissible. According to the Mayo Clinic, it’s nearly impossible to get the herpes virus through contact with toilets, towels, or other objects in a public restroom that have been used by an infected person because the virus dies so quickly.
This also goes for STIs like syphilis, HPV, HIV, and even pubic lice. None of these are not transmittable via toilet seats.
Basically, you’d have to physically try to get an STI by rubbing an open wound or mucous membrane over the fluids left on the seat by someone who used the toilets seconds before. So, while there may be multiple reasons not to use a public toilet seat, getting an STI isn’t one of them.
In short, STIs are called sexually transmitted infections for a reason: they are spread through sexual content. Catching an STD from a toilet seat is impossible.
Still concerned? That’s where we can help! You always have the option to get tested. STD/STIs are often asymptomatic, which means you may not show any signs that you are infected. With myLAB Box, you can rest easy.
Get Tested with myLAB Box
Always remember that having an STD/STI is not a death sentence. Many STIs are curable with antibiotics or manageable with treatment. As always, practice safe sex. Using a condom greatly reduces risk of exposure, especially if you are unsure of your partner’s current status.
- L Dayan. (2003). Transmission of Neisseria gonorrhoeae from a toilet seat. Sexually Transmitted Infections.
J. Barker, S.F. Bloomfield. (2001). Survival of Salmonella in bathrooms and toilets in domestic homes following salmonellosis. Pharmaceutical Sciences Institute, School of Life and Health Sciences.
J. Barker, M.V. Jones. (2005). The potential spread of infection caused by aerosol contamination of surfaces after flushing a domestic toilet. Department of Pharmaceutical and Biological Sciences, School of Life and Health Sciences.