Doctor warns squatting over toilet seat could be damaging body, claims study
Many Brits hover over a toilet seat to avoid making contact with germs, especially in a public setting – but experts have warned this practice may be doing more harm than good.
While the thought of sitting on a toilet seat covered with ‘droplets’ from the previous user is enough to make us squirm, squatting while you do your business can actually cause substantial damage to your body.
The transmission of bacteria through surface contact in public washrooms is unlikely, claim various microbiologists.
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But Dr Preethi Daniel has warned the approach we use to avoid contact with germs could cause harm.
The expert told her.ie: “All that squatting and hovering we do to avoid touching the toilet seat, and the mad rush we are in to get out of the toilet cubicle are what can give us a urine infection.
“By not emptying your bladder completely, in a rush or if you are squatting, you are exposing your body to potentially harmful bacteria.”
In 2020, researchers discovered that adopting the squatting position when going to the toilet changes the mechanisms of urination.
They found that the damaging effects could eventually lead to health complications, including pelvic floor dysfunction.
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Stephanie Bobinger, an expert from the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Centre, explained at the time: “Pelvic floor dysfunction can include muscle weakness, over-activity and discoordination.
“When you hover, your hips have to hold you in mid-air. If you’re in a partial squat, it doesn’t allow the full excursion for urine to flow.
“The path of urine is impaired, and it’s not as open. The stream can change; that when we may develop habits to empty all the way like straining and bearing down.”
The expert explained that the force exerted against the pelvic floor causes harm.
It is recommended that people adopt a sitting position, as opposed to squatting over a toilet seat.
The risk of contracting an infection from a toilet seat is minimal, as most disease-causing organisms can only survive for a short time on the surface of any toilet seat.
WebMD explained that the types of bacteria found in public washrooms include staphylococcus, streptococcus, and various sexually transmitted organisms.
Abigail Salyers, president of the American Society for Microbiology, said: “No one has ever acquired an STD on the toilet seat – unless they were having sex on the toilet seat.”
Doctor Daniel added: “To contract these diseases the germs would have to be directly transferred from the toilet seat to your genital tract, or through an open wound or sore on your legs or buttocks.
“You are more likely to be struck by lightning while riding a flying pig the catching a sexually transmitted disease from a public seat, so please don’t worry.”
UTIs have many clinical manifestations but the most common symptoms are a burning feeling when urinating, a sense of urgency to urinate, and increased frequency of urination.
More rarely, people will notice blood in their urine, or fever, alongside other neurological complications like confusion.
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