Can You Catch STDs From Toilet Seats?

Dear Heather,

The other day, a boy in my class told me that you can catch STDs from a toilet seat. Now I’m totally freaking out. I haven’t had sex yet, but is it possible for me to actually catch something just from going to the bathroom?! Can you really catch STDs from toilet seats? I know this sounds weird but I’m worried. Please give me an answer!

Don’t worry girl, you definitely don’t sound weird. A few years ago, I heard something similar to this and I started freaking out the same way you are. I was seriously skeptical of ever using a public toilet because I was so paranoid that I would catch some sort of STD or other disease. Fortunately for both of us, catching something serious from a toilet seat is rare and can also be avoided pretty easily.

While toilet seats definitely hold a lot of bacteria, there’s no reason to avoid them completely. Yes, there’s a ton of dirty stuff going on on that seat, but as long as you rub your hands all over it and then put them in your mouth (ew, gross), you should be okay. Bugs that are normally found on toilet seats are things like E. coli, hepatitis A, the common cold virus and, yes, some sexually transmitted diseases. I know, I know. This isn’t helping your anxiety. Read on!

I’ve heard myths about being able to catch pubic lice (crabs) and genital warts or herpes from toilet seats. This is most likely something you don’t need to worry about. Pubic lice can’t live away from a human body for that long, so that means they can’t live on a toilet seat. Have no fear – no little lice are going to be jumping up your butt! Catching genital herpes from a toilet seat is also super rare.

Here’s the thing: as long as you have a healthy immune system and you wash your hands after you use the bathroom, you should be fine. After all, if it were that easy to catch a serious disease from a toilet seat, we’d all be walking around with these diseases, right? And remember when I told you guys about those eight seemingly innocent things that are dirtier than a toilet seat? Trust me, toilets are not the number one thing you need to be worried about. If you’re stressed over germs, make sure you stay hygienic – wash your hands after you go to the bathroom and carry around hand sanitizer. And remember, in general, the only time you should be worried about contracting STDs or STIs is when you’re having sex without a condom.

take care,

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  • Meriah

    The second paragraph on this article has a few typos…I’m pretty sure that : “Yes, there’s a ton of dirty stuff going on on that seat, but as long as you rub your hands all over it and then put them in your mouth (ew, gross), you should be okay.” is supposed to say “as long as you DON’T rub your hands all over it….” I’m pretty sure you don’t want people thinking it’s ok to rub their hands all over a toilet seat…

  • Jillian

    I heard two people have sex on the toilet in the bathroom of my freshman dorm. I avoided that stall they had been in like the plague for the rest of the semester. I mean, a TOILET? EEEWWWW

    • Annette

      Same thing happened to me!! I wonder if it was the same people, because honestly, who would do that?!