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Things to know about rimming

If someone has no infections, having your mouth on their arse poses little health risk if you’ve got a normally functioning immune system. But if either man has cuts in their mouth or in or around the arse then there can be a risk of infections spreading including, in theory, HIV, although the actual HIV risk is minimal. Hepatitis C can be spread in blood if rimming happens after heavy arse play.

Even without cuts, rimming can much more easily pass on sexually transmitted infections (such as gonorrhoea), but especially hepatitis A, gut infections and parasites.

Hepatitis A

This virus causes inflammation of the liver. It’s found in shit and only a tiny amount needs to get in the mouth for the infection to be picked up. Rimming, fingering, fisting, fucking or touching arses or used condoms or sex toys can all spread it.

Hepatitis A is only life threatening to the elderly or those with other liver problems (including hepatitis C). All the same, hepatitis A can make you very ill for weeks or months.

Gay men are at increased risk of getting it but can be vaccinated free at sexual health clinics. Find more info on hep A and vaccination in our Clinic.

Gut infections

Gut infections include threadworm. These are harmless, short, thread-like worms that cause itching around the arse hole. They can be seen on your shit and are easily treated with non-prescription powders or tablets from chemists.

Other infections are caused by parasites (like giardia or amoebas) or bacteria (such as salmonella, E. coli or shigella). Cases of shigella in gay men have been spiralling upwards recently. Symptoms can be bad (maybe bloody) diarrhoea, stomach cramps, farting and weight loss – and may need a course of antibiotics.

Some gut infections can be very hard to get rid of, especially if HIV has weakened your immune system.

The following can reduce the risk of picking up these infections:

  • Cutting out rimming or doing it less and with fewer men.
  • Washing hands after arse play and anything involving contact with shit.
  • Wearing latex gloves for fingering or fisting and condoms for fucking.
  • Rimming through a barrier (cling film, condom cut into a square or dental dam).

Find out more about gut infections in our Clinic.

Last review: 25/09/2018
Next review: 25/09/2021