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Can you catch an STI from a toilet seat?

A common question answered by Your Sexual Health

You don’t have to be a germaphobe to dislike using a public toilet. No matter where you get caught short, the inside of a cubicle rarely offers us the same confidence as the inside of your own bathroom. When was this toilet last cleaned? Who used it last? Why is the floor wet? All uncertainties that can leave you second guessing your choice to leave the house this morning. But there is one question that Your Sexual Health can help you with.

So, can you catch an STI from a toilet seat? You’ve probably Googled it at some stage I’m sure. That question (or one very similar) is typed into search engines thousands of times each month. The great news is that whether you’ve used a portaloo at Glastonbury or you’re sitting in your very own toilet the chances of you catching an STI are pretty much the same. That is to say the chances of catching an STI from a toilet seat are almost zero.


I know what you’re thinking, you’ve been in some pretty dodgy toilets. Thankfully the fragile organisms that are sexually transmitted diseases just aren’t that great at surviving at room temperature on a shiny surface for any longer than around 10 seconds. In reality they only really survive inside your body or directly around your genitals in areas that are unlikely to come into direct contact with a toilet seat.

For you to catch an STI that did somehow survive on a toilet seat it would then have to transfer from the seat and into your genital or urethral tract, or through a cut or sore on your buttocks. The likelihood of which is very small and if you ask any doctor or public health nurse they’ll almost certainly tell you that they’ve never heard a case like this before.

So how are STI’s transmitted exactly?

OK, it’s an obvious answer, but sexually transmitted infections generally only transfer from one person to another during body to body contact through the transfer of bodily fluids. Whether that’s vaginal, anal or oral sex. All STIs are the same. If you’ve slept with someone who has an STI without wearing a condom then you’re likely to have caught an STI from that person. Whether or not you used the same toilet seat as them will have very little bearing on your chances.

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