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HPV and Toilet Seats


Updated May 15, 2014

Can you get HPV from toilet seats
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Question: HPV and Toilet Seats
A friend of mine told me that you can catch HPV from a toilet seat. Is this true?
Answer: Fortunately, this is a myth, but still remains a common belief among many people. The human pappillomavirus (HPV) cannot be transmitted through sitting on a toilet seat. Because viruses cannot survive long outside of the body, HPV cannot be transmitted this way.

How Can You Get HPV?

HPV is transmitted through sexual skin-to-skin contact from an infected partner. No penetration is required to contract HPV. HPV can be transmitted through:
  • vaginal intercourse
  • anal intercourse
  • oral sex
  • touching your infected partner's genitals and then your own
  • sharing sex toys with an infected person without disinfecting first
  • genital-to-genital contact (same or opposite sex)

Preventing HPV

Because no penetration is needed to transmit the virus, prevention of HPV can be difficult. Condoms provide limited protection because infected parts of the genitals may still be exposed, even if a condom is worn. A recent study has shown that wearing a condom correctly and every time you have sex may reduce a woman's HPV risk by 70 percent. For sexually active individuals, wearing a condom and limiting the amount of partners may reduce the risk of transmission.

The HPV vaccine, Gardasil, is also a highly effective means of preventing HPV. The vaccine is approved for young women ages nine through 26. Gardasil protects against two types of HPV known to cause cervical cancer in women and two types known to cause genital warts. Talk to your doctor to see if you would benefit from the HPV vaccine.

  1. Winer, Ph.D., Rachel, James P. Hughes, Ph.D., Qinghua Feng, Ph.D., Sandra O'Reilly, B.S., Nancy B. Kiviat, M.D., King K. Holmes, M.D., Ph.D., and Laura A. Koutsky, Ph.D.. "Condom Use and the Risk of Genital Human Papillomavirus Infection in Young Women." New England Journal of Medicine 354:2645-265422 Jun 2006.
  2. "HPV Vaccine Q and A." National Immunization Program. 07 July 2006. Centers for Disease Control.
  3. Centers for Disease and Prevention."Sexually Transmitted Disease Guidelines 2006." Sep 2006. Accessed 7 Nov 2006.
  4. "Sexually Transmitted Disease Overview." 4Women.gov. May 2005. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 9 Jan 2007

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