News alert – the toilet seat may be cleaner than your mobile phone!

According to John Oxford, professor of virology at the University of London and chair of the Hygiene Council – “The average desktop has 400 times more bacteria than a toilet seat.”

Many women will hover over public toilets in fear of nasty germs and bacteria. According to research, the non-porous surface of a public toilet seat, which is generally cleaned regularly, is not a place that harbours germs. The worst offenders are commonly used items such as phones, which are not cleaned often, wooden chopping boards in the kitchen, and carpet. Furthermore, we have our biggest protective barrier, our skin, on guard. So, provided the toilet passes the ‘look test’ and we wash our hands afterwards, we have very little chance of picking up any bacteria that will make us sick.

So, what’s the big deal with hovering?

The problem with hovering frequently lies with our pelvic floor muscles – the group of muscles designed to keep us continent and provide support to our pelvic organs. When we hover or partially squat over the toilet, these muscles are not able to relax and allow our bladder and bowel to fully empty. This can contribute to or worsen constipation. The urine left over may mean we need to head back to the bathroom soon after, and may contribute to incontinence or, if done often enough, can lead to urinary tract infections. It may also encourage you to bear down or push to help empty the bladder and bowel, which again, if done often, can contribute to pelvic organ prolapse. Not everyone will have these problems of course, but if you find yourself hovering frequently, you may need to rethink your approach to public toilets.

Next time you get the ‘call to nature’ when out and about, be sure to put down a seat cover, use a hygiene wipe, or just take a big deep breath in and sit! Relax and take your time to empty well… and wash your hands after, of course!

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