One sexually transmitted infections (STI) that is less heard of is shigella, a bacteria that causes a bowel infection, usually among guys who have sex with guys. The infection itself is called shigellosis, and is highly contagious. Transmission occurs when you come into contact with particles of contaminated faeces, and the bacteria enters your body through the mouth.
Common ways shigella can be transmitted include:
- Rimming, fingering, fisting or fucking
- Handling used sex toys
- Handling used condoms
- Making contact with your mouth after they have come into contact with faecal matter that contains shigella.
Generally, symptoms from shigella appear within 1-3 days after infection.
For guys who feel they may be showing symptoms of shigella, these are the most common signs you could have the STI.
Got a case of the runs after a night of fun? As a bowel infection, it probably comes as no surprise that shigella can cause a person to visit the bathroom much more frequently than they’d like to.
2. Vomiting or nausea
An unsettled stomach and vomiting is also a potential sign of shigella. If the vomiting and nausea is severe or accompanied by diarrhoea, there is a high risk of dehydration, so you should seek advice from your doctor as soon as possible.
3. Stomach cramps
Cramping of the stomach can be described as unusual tension and pain in the abdominal area. It may occur periodically, and at varying intensity until the STI clears. As there may be a number of different causes for stomach cramps, it’s always best to seek the advice of a doctor to help determine the cause.
If you are experiencing a high temperature or fever, it’s possible that it could be a shigellosis infection. Over the counter paracetamol may calm the fever, but seek the advice of your doctor if it persists.
What should I do if symptoms of shigella appear?
If symptoms of shigella occur after sexual activity, you should see your doctor or visit a sexual health clinic as soon as you can, wash your hands often and thoroughly, and avoid sex until 7 days after symptoms cease.
To get tested, there are many sexual health clinics around NSW that offer confidential STI testing and treatment. These tests are also usually covered by Medicare, depending on the doctor or clinic you visit. You can find your closest sexual health clinic using our ‘where to get tested’ tool.
On PrEP? It’s important to remember that PrEP doesn’t protect you from STIs other than HIV, so if you want to help prevent shigella, consider things like wearing gloves for arse play or using dams for rimming.