When faced with having to use a public toilet, a lot of women choose to hover over the seat instead of actually sitting down to go. We think we’re avoiding germs and such, but aside from the leg workout we get, is squatting really doing any good? It turns out, not so much.
According to clinical microbiologist Dr. Primrose Freestone, human poop does carry “a wide range of transmissible pathogens,” including salmonella, E. coli, and hepatitis A, just to name a few. So she says there’s always risk for an infection when you come into contact with fecal matter, but she assures us it’s “very unlikely” we’ll catch one of these bugs from sitting on the toilet seat.
Dr. Freestone says “Most intestinal diseases involve hand-to-mouth transfer of bacteria as a result of fecal contamination of hands, food, and surfaces.” Plus, our bodies have a layer of good bacteria and yeast protecting us, as well as our immune system, which she says is “ferociously good” at protecting us from nasty bugs.
So she says there’s no need to squat over the toilet seat and warns that doing so could “actually cause injury or increase the risk of infection.” For one thing, hovering over the seat can mean you don’t empty your bladder fully, which can raise the risk for urinary tract infections.
We’re better off carrying disinfecting wipes and giving the toilet a once over before sitting down. And since not everyone washes their hands after going, try to use your sleeve, elbow, or a paper towel to grab the door handle to leave so your hands don’t get contaminated. And since research has shown our cell phones could be 10 times dirtier than a toilet seat, Dr Freestone says we should be more worried about the cleanliness of our phones than public toilets.Yikes!