Toilet Infection does not exist as a disease in Medicine. Most ladies refer to any discomfort around the vagina and its environs as toilet disease.
This article is to enlighten women on what they refer to as “toilet infection.” Vaginal itch or discharge is not usually a bathroom infection; they can be due to the strangest of reasons.
Nkechi is a 28-year-old lady who presented at her doctor’s office with complaints of vaginal discharge and itching.
Two weeks before visiting the clinic, Nkechi had eaten fried rice at a wedding reception at Lekki; the rice was so delicious she had two helpings. Her boyfriend preferred the Jollof rice and also had two helpings. They left the party 3 hours later, and on their way home (the mainland), Nkechi felt nauseous, her tummy churned making her feel like using the toilet; she put that down to eating too much. Along the way, she was pressed to use the bathroom; they began to search for a fast food joint with a possible public toilet; voila! She found one just before giving up on using the ‘Bush’ instead.
She rushed in, barely making it. Feeling quite relieved, she continued her journey home but had two more toilet visits. As a result of the episodes of diarrhea, she bought antibiotics for her troubles. The pharmacists prescribed something she should take three times daily (8 hourly) for five days, she took a starting dose before continuing her drive home.
She still had three more episodes of diarrhea that night despite the medicines but by morning, all her symptoms had disappeared. She completed her course of antibiotics, even though her symptoms ended less than 24 hours after the first episode.
Less than two weeks later she noticed she had a slight vaginal itch and yellowish discharge, so she took antibiotics for five days, convinced she contracted an infection from the public toilets she had used during those episodes of diarrhea. After seven days of treatment rather than the itching or discharge reducing, it got worse, so she visited her GP.
After a thorough history, examination and lab tests, the GP discovered her symptoms were due to antibiotics abuse.
He then educated her that medically, it was rare to get a urinary tract infection from just using a public toilet if her immune system is intact. The vaginal itch and discharge she had were as a result of wrong use of antibiotics. The cause of diarrhea she had was a bacteria called Bacillus cereus which produces a toxin in fried rice dishes that have been sitting at room temperature for hours. This condition is known as ‘fried rice syndrome.’ Can you believe that? The toxins lead to either diarrhea alone or associated with nausea and vomiting.
The Fried Rice Syndrome!
These symptoms occur within 1 to 5 hours of ingesting the food and last about 6 to 24 hours. So it is a self-limiting infection, rarely severe, and not caused by the bacteria but its toxins. Therefore, taking antibiotics is a dangerous thing to do as well as a waste. The antibiotics have to do some work, and when they get into the system, they do not see any harmful bacteria, so they destroy the friendly bacteria in the digestive system, urinary tract and skin leading to either worsening diarrhea, urinary tract infection, boils or a decrease in your immunity. How? By allowing the dangerous bacteria to overgrow the protective ones to cause disease!
So in Nkechi’s case, the cause of her vaginal itch and discharge was wrong antibiotics use.
There is a general misconception that ladies can contract urinary tract infections or worse, a sexually transmitted disease from using a public toilet. Although there are many microbes in a toilet, contracting a urinary tract infection or a sexually transmitted disease would be highly unlikely except if your immunity is very low, you have a cut in which there is a direct transfer, or you have sex on the toilet seat. The toilet is not a common source for transmitting UTIS or STDs infections to humans because the offending bacteria do not last long outside the human body. It does not mean you cannot catch an infection in the toilet; by not washing your hands properly after using a toilet, touching the flusher, taps, door handles can cause infectious diseases such as diarrhea (faecal-oral transmission), or eye infection.
A quote from the former president of the American Society for Microbiology found on WebMD: “To my knowledge, “no one has ever acquired a sexually transmitted disease on the toilet seat—unless they were having sex on the toilet seat!”.
The common causes of vaginal discharge or itching include but not limited to:
- Prolonged or inappropriate use of antibiotics
- Cleaning the butt from back to front
- Some soaps especially prolonged use of medicated or antibacterial soap/perfumes
- Use of steroids e.g. prednisolone
- Tight dark underwear
- Damp underwear
- Diabetes mellitus
- Lowered immunity
- Use of vaginal sprays
- Some birth control pills
So dear friends let us stop putting the blames on the toilet when we do have vaginal discharges. It has nothing to do with it. I hope this helps.