CLOSE AND ACCEPT

Terrence Higgins Trust uses cookies to improve your experience of our websites. For more information or to change the use of cookies, please click here.

Gut infections

How common are gut infections?

It’s often difficult to know whether gut infections have come from general stomach bugs, food poisoning or sex. Clinics don’t count how many people they treat for gut infections and people often go to their doctor for treatment.

Men who are into scat or rimming, especially if they do it with lots of men, will be more likely to get gut infections.

What causes gut infections?

A large number of bacteria can cause gut infections, leading to diarrhoea or stomach pains. Bacterial gut infections include E. coli, shigellosis (caused by shigella) and salmonellosis (caused by salmonella).

Some gut infections are caused by parasites, such as threadworm, amoebiasis (caused by amoebas) and giardiasis (caused by giardia).

What are the symptoms of gut infections?

Symptoms of gut infections can include:

  • diarrhoea
  • stomach cramps
  • farting
  • fever
  • blood in the diarrhoea
  • losing weight.

With threadworms, you might:

  • feel itching around and inside your arse
  • see the worms in your shit, looking like short threads of white cotton.

How are gut infections passed on?

Gut infections can be passed on by food poisoning and by getting tiny amounts of shit on your fingers and in your mouth. This can happen during:

  • rimming
  • fucking
  • fingering
  • fisting
  • scat
  • handling used dildos or condoms.

Threadworms are caused when the invisible worm eggs get on your fingers and then into your mouth. They’re spread in the same way as gut infections.

How are gut infections prevented?

You can prevent gut infections by:

  • avoiding contact with shit during sex
  • using latex gloves for fisting and fingering, or a latex barrier (such as a condom cut into a square) for rimming
  • washing your hands after handling used condoms or after sex involving arse play.

You might decide to cut down on scat or rimming or not do them at all.

How are gut infections treated?

If you think you’ve got a gut infection from sex, you need to say you’ve been in contact with shit (for example when rimming) so that your doctor knows which tests to carry out. If you don’t tell the doctor then they won’t test for the right things and you won’t get treated, leaving the infection to cause serious damage.

To find out what infection you’ve got, a sample of your shit will be tested. Any partners should also be checked and/or treated to stop you being re-infected.

Antibiotics have to be used for some infections. Anti-diarrhoea treatments may make some gut infections worse.

With threadworms you don’t need to see a doctor. The worms are treated by taking tablets or powders that are available cheaply in chemists without a prescription.

What happens if gut infections aren’t treated?

Some untreated gut infections could last many months, eventually causing serious damage to organs like the liver. Gut infections can cause serious problems if HIV has weakened your immune system. Sometimes the infections can be very difficult to get rid of.

Last review: 25/09/2014
Next review: 31/09/2017