Ladies know all too well about a method called the hovering-over-the-toilet-seat technique. We call it a technique because it takes more practice than most men might think! Training begins at an early age as mothers teach their daughters to hover. Many people use this technique when visiting public places such as a shopping mall, or even at a family member's house that doesn't have the best hygiene habits. Let's explore everything there is to know regarding hovering over toilet seats and your health.
Is Hovering Over a Toilet Seat a Good Idea?
For those of you who don’t know, hovering in this context is squatting slightly over the toilet seat. You might ask, why not place a seat cover or toilet paper on the seat and then sit down? Some might say this is a much more comfortable option.
Well, then people would be tempted to sit down on the actual seat, instead of choosing to hover. Although the paper is there for protection, it does not protect you from general splatter or splashback.
More Than A Hygiene Issue
The main problem with the hovering system is that it can change how you urinate. Hovering while you urinate can contribute to bladder infections and also influence pelvic floor functions. When you hover, your pelvic floor muscles and abs are extremely tense as they have to hold you in mid-air. When you are partially squatting, the tension on the muscles of your pelvic floor and pelvic girdle makes it difficult for urine to flow properly. In summary, hovering over a toilet seat does not allow urine to flow easily.
If you do not empty the bladder sufficiently due to your position during the hovering process, the residual urine can create bacteria and increase your chances of getting urinary tract infections (UTIs). In more extreme cases, the extra urine can also contribute to incontinence.
The good news is there are solutions to the problem at hand. Consider the following instead of hovering when using a toilet.
Add a Layer
Toilet seat covers and toilet paper are porous, meaning they contain holes large enough to allow microscopic organisms to penetrate. Therefore, if you decide to use the seat cover/toilet paper solution, it will help to add a few layers. While this will improve the sanitary situation, it will not solve it completely.
Sanitizing the toilet seat before covering it with toilet paper or a seat cover will contribute to your peace of mind. In fact, a considerable amount of bacteria will be eliminated by the sanitizer. The same applies to men having to use public toilet seats on occasion. Consider traveling with antibacterial wipes to give the seat a once-over before sitting down.
Wash Your Hands
When a toilet is flushed, a lot of the bacteria and viruses end up in the environment surrounding the toilet. Washing your hands thoroughly will prevent you from taking bacteria out of the public restroom. From the research, keeping your hands clean after using the restroom is an even bigger concern than just sitting on a bare seat.
What happens when you choose not to use a toilet seat cover?
The reason many people use toilet seat covers is that it was once believed that toilet seats were one of the ways of transmitting gastrointestinal and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). However, that has since been disproven and the fact is that you will probably not get sick from sitting on a public toilet. Nonetheless, you will want to take extra precautions if you have an open wound, such as a cut on your buttocks or the back of your legs.
Also, keep in mind that the skin on your body will act as the first layer of defense against infections. Remember that your skin is quite capable of taking care of your body regarding the bacteria that may be lurking on and around the toilet seat.
The healthier option, in the long run, is to sit down on the toilet seat rather than hover. For your peace of mind though, still sanitize the seat where possible.
Additional Reading: Public Restroom Locators
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