Toilet Seats: An Argument in Favor of Leaving Them Up

Let me say up front that I understand why women want the men and boys in their life to put toilet seats down. I’ve got two sisters, three daughters, a mother, and several ex-wives, all of whom reminded me more than once about the unpleasantness of falling into the toilet. So, yeah, I get it. But I just came across a study that makes a pretty good case for why leaving the seat up may be necessary.

Researcher Benjamin Breyer, from the University of California, San Francisco, and his team, found that between 2002 and 2010, genitourinary injuries relating to toilets resulted in 13,175 Emergency Room visits around the U.S. About 68 percent of those were cases of a toilet seat falling and trapping someone’s penis between the seat and the toilet bowl. Ninety-seven percent of the victims were boys seven and under, most of whom were learning to urinate standing up and/or didn’t have the reflexes to get out of the way of an unexpectedly falling toilet seat. (In case you were wondering, only five adults sustained toilet-seat-related injuries during the same period. I find it hard to envision what, exactly, they were doing just before the accident).

“To us, that was striking. That was unexpected. You think of the bathroom as a safe place,” said Breyer, who noted that the number of crush injuries is on the rise, increasing by about 100 every year. In addition, “[t]his data can be the tip of the iceberg, because there could be kids who are hurt whose parents don’t bring them to the ER. So this could be an underestimation of how often this is going on.”

The good news is that in most cases, the physical injury is minor—the patient is treated in the ER and sent home. But one has to wonder about whether there will be any psychological effects.

If, after reading this, you still feel that it’s necessary to put toilet seats down, at least consider some alternatives such as U-shaped seats or some of the slow-closing models that are available.

The article was published in the British Journal of Urology International (BJUI). You can read an abstract here.

Whatcha think?

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