Information for Sexually Active People

Gay, bisexual, or other men who have sex with men (MSM) are more likely than others to be infected by antibiotic-resistant strains (types) of Shigella. Learn about antibiotic resistance and Shigella infections.

Shigella is a germ that causes diarrhea. Shigella can be found in the poop (stool) of people with diarrhea and can continue to be found in their poop for up to two weeks after the diarrhea has gone away.

Shigella germs can spread easily to other people through the poop of an infected person or through sex with an infected person. The germs also can spread when people put something (such as a finger, food, or objects) in their mouth or swallow something that has come into contact with the poop of an infected person.

Practice safer sex

Attention: Diarrheal infections can spread through sex

Download CDC health promotion materials about Shigella infection.

People with an infection might have Shigella on their skin in the anal and genital areas, including the thighs and buttocks. You cannot tell if someone has germs in these areas just by looking at the skin. Shigella that’s on someone’s skin, including on and around an infected person’s anus, penis, vagina, butt, or thighs can spread to people who touch the skin.

If you or your partner has diarrhea, do not have sex. To reduce the chance of Shigella spreading, wait at least two weeks after diarrhea ends to have sex.

  • Sex includes anal sex (penis-to-anus), oral sex (mouth-to-penis, mouth-to-vagina, mouth-to-anus), and vaginal sex (penis-to-vagina).
  • Sex also includes anal, oral, and vaginal sex with shared toys that are not washed after each use.

Take steps to reduce oral contact with poop during sex.

  • Wash your hands, genitals, and anus with soap and water before and after sexual activity. Wash hands, especially after touching sex toys, used condoms or barriers, and douching materials.
  • Use barriers like condoms, natural rubber latex sheets, dental dams, or cut-open nonlubricated condoms during oral sex and oral-anal sex.
  • Use latex gloves during anal fingering or fisting.
  • Wash sex toys with soap and water after each use and wash hands after touching used sex toys.
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