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Toilets and STDs

Q: My friends and I have a question. As girls and best friends, we wanted to know if one could catch any sexually transmitted infection from sharing toilets. Could you catch anything if any water from the toilet touches you? (For example -- urinating and not flushing because someone else is going to urinate so they use it before flushing.

-- W.T.

Dr. Donnica: NO. You have nothing to worry about from sharing toilets with your friends! If the water touches you and it has bacteria or other infectious agents in it, then it would be possible for you to "catch something," but still highly unlikely. Sexually transmitted infections most often come from sexual contact with an infected person (whether or not they know they have it), although STDs can also be transmitted through blood or sharing infected needles. Other things that may transmit STDs that you should never share even with your best friends include toothbrushes, razors, or used undergarments. (It's ok to borrow your friends' panties after they've been washed.)

If you are using a public toilet, I do recommend wiping off the seat firmly with toilet paper before using it. While many women go to great lengths to cover the toilet seat with paper or other covers or to "hover" over the toilet seat without sitting on it, this is not necessary and it often creates a mess for the next user! If you do sprinkle when you tinkle, please be neat and wipe the seat!

Flushing is not required between each urination, although it is our social custom. Often, especially in places that need to conserve water, people are requested to use the toilet several times before flushing. "If it's yellow, let it mellow; if it's brown, flush it down." The most important toilet hygiene issues are wiping yourself from front to back and, most importantly, washing your hands immediately after using the toilet each time. If you are going to leave urine in the toilet water, be sure to close the lid to contain odors and so that pets can't drink it.

Best regards,
Donnica Moore, M.D.
President, DrDonnica.com

Created: 9/6/2003  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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