Last Updated on June 4, 2020 by Valinda Riggins Nwadike, MD, MPH
This guest post was written by one of our contributors, Dr. Megan Stubbs, an energetic multi-media savvy Sexologist.
Reader Submitted Question
I’m a college student, and I live in a dorm with a community bathroom facility. I heard that one of the girls down the hall has an STD, and now I’m worried about using the same restroom as her. Can you get an STD from a toilet or shower that was used by someone who’s infected?
Dr. Megan’s Response
You question is one that I get very often. I understand that the prospect of sharing a public toilet is something that is enough to make anyone want to wipe it down with anti-bacterial wipes and employ the foot flush, but as far as a mode of transmission for an STD, you should be ok.
The short answer is no, you cannot get an STD, or rather an STI, from sharing a toilet or shower with someone who is infected with one.
Why can’t I get an STD from a toilet or shower?
The reason STIs are called sexually transmitted infections is because of the way they are spread: through sexual contact.
Your mucous membranes would have to come in contact with someone’s infected fluids (vaginal secretions or ejaculate) in order for there to be transmission.
There is a slim possibility of you having a cut or sore on your thighs or butt that may be an opening for the pathogens to be transferred into, but that is pretty unlikely.
Many germs and viruses die rapidly when removed from a warm body, so that should help put you at ease also. You would also need quite a large amount in order for you to become infected, but your immune system is constantly doing battle with all sorts of minute germs and bacteria that you encounter daily.
What if I’m still worried?
If you are still concerned, you always have the option to go get tested. Keep in mind that many STI/STDs can be asymptomatic, so you may not know that you are infected, and the only way to be sure is to get tested.
Also, remember that having an STI/STD is not a death sentence. Many STIs are curable with antibiotics and others are able to be managed with medication. You have nothing to lose by getting tested and everything to gain.
As always, safer sex practices, like using a condom or dental dam can reduce your risk of exposure, especially if you are unsure of your partner’s current status.
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Dr. Megan Stubbs is an energetic multi-media savvy Sexologist: the job you never saw on career day. She appears on a number of radio stations, television shows, writes for many online publications, and is the new Sex columnist for Women’s Lifestyle Magazine. To read her full bio, along with links to her recent posts, check out our contributors page. Dr. Megan believes that sex should be fun, and she uses her lighthearted, intelligent, and humorous delivery to make that happen. For insightful tips or a good laugh, find her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and SexologistMegan.com.
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Have you also wondered if you can get an STD from a toilet or while using another public utility, like a water fountain? Did this help answer your questions? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!