Health experts consider transmitting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) via a toilet seat impossible. Sitting on a toilet does not expose a person to infection.

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This article explores whether someone can contract an STD from a toilet seat, other possible viruses that may spread on a toilet, and what to do about preventing infections.

STDs are conditions that usually spread through sexual contact without involving a barrier method.

These infections can be either bacterial or viral. In both cases, the infection cannot last very long in an environment or nonhuman host. For this reason, even if an STD transmits onto a toilet seat, it is very unlikely that the infection will survive until the next person uses the toilet.

Additionally, if the infection remains on the toilet seat, a person would need to sit in a specific position or have open skin sores that direct contact with the seat’s surface to contract it.

For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) highlight that it is impossible to contract syphilis, a bacterial STD, through casual contact with a toilet seat.

Research suggests that some nonsexually transmitted viruses are more likely to spread from within the toilet through fecal-oral transmission than from a toilet seat, particularly during flushing. Flushing the toilet causes particles to rise into the air, so avoiding spending time in a public cubicle after flushing is better.

Other bacterial or viral infections can spread in the washroom via:

  • open-lid toilet flushing
  • ineffective handwashing or hand drying
  • substandard or infrequent surface cleaning
  • blocked drains
  • uncovered rubbish bins

If someone thinks they have contracted a virus, they should contact a healthcare professional for a diagnosis.

People have become considerably more familiar with measures to prevent viruses since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Viruses in public places are respiratory infections that often spread through the air.

Protection and prevention

The best method of protection from these viruses in public places includes:

To prevent the spread of possible infections in public places, such as a washroom, a person can practice:

  • appropriate handwashing with water and soap for at least 20 seconds
  • drying hands until they are fully dry
  • using hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes, where possible, in case there is a lack soap or running water
  • limiting time spent in a public washroom in a single visit, ideally less than 15 minutes
  • closing the toilet lid before flushing
  • leaving the cubicle immediately after activating the flush button
  • maintaining physical distance from other users and avoiding crowded washrooms
  • avoiding touching the exit door handle or other surfaces in the washroom after washing hands and before leaving the area.•
  • avoiding the following in a bathroom:
    • eating
    • smoking
    • drinking
    • using a mobile phone

Public toilets generally have implemented cleaning procedures in place. Many surfaces in the bathroom receive adequate cleaning by professionals. This includes high risk objects such as:

  • toilet handles
  • bathroom door handles
  • light switches

A person can raise public health concerns with the relevant authority of the public space or facility.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the following types are the most common curable STDs:

Most of the time, STDs spread through sexual contact with someone carrying the infection.

They transmit through vaginal, anal, or sometimes oral sex. An STD can spread through contact with the following:

  • genitals
  • rectum
  • body fluids
  • skin
  • mouth

However, some STDs can also spread through:

  • pregnancy
  • childbirth
  • breastfeeding
  • contact with blood or body fluids

People can consult a sexual health clinic to discuss any concerns and ensure they receive appropriate testing.

Several methods can reduce the chances of contracting an STD.

For example, while using a condom does not eliminate the chance of contracting an STD completely, it provides substantial protection and reduces the risk.

A person can also undergo regular STD tests to reduce the chance of unknowingly passing or transmitting infection.

Some STDs also have vaccinations, including the human papillomavirus vaccine. This helps lower the risks of a person developing cervical cancer in some cases.

Some sexual practices may carry a higher risk than others. For example, anal sex poses a high risk, as this sexual act may result in tears in the skin tissues within the rectum, making it easier for the infection to enter the body.

A person should consult a doctor if they have any concerns or questions regarding any of the above.

Learn more about safe sex practices.

The chances of STDs spreading on a toilet seat are so low that it is practically impossible.

Most sexual infections do not survive for long enough outside the host. Additionally, an STD would need to enter the body fluids or an open wound to cause an infection.

If a person has concerns about contracting an STD, they can undergo sexual health testing and use protection to reduce risks.