Better2Know tests for a wide range of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs), however there are some infections that are not commonly associated with being an STI but can still be transmittable by sexual contact. 

One of these conditions is a bacteria called Shigella sonnei, an infection that can affect gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men.  It is caused by bacteria found in faeces and can therefore be spread through sex. 

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) note that, “it is passed on through the faecal-oral route during sex, either directly or via unwashed hands”.  Just a small amount of the bacteria can spread the infection which is sometimes mistaken for food poisoning.

If you become infected with Shigella it usually causes dysentery. It is one of the major causes of diarrhoea globally causing an estimated 80 to 165 million cases with between approximately 74,000 to 600,000 fatalities each year.

What is the UKHSA advise for Shigella?

Dr Gauri Godbole, consultant medical microbiologist at UKHSA comments, “men with Shigella may have been exposed to other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV so a sexual health screen or ordering tests online is recommended.

Sexual hygiene tips

Sexual hygiene tips

Dr Godbole says that “practising good hygiene after sex is crucial to keep you and your partners safe”.  Here are some sexual cleanliness tips:

  • Avoid oral sex immediately after anal sex
  • Change condoms between anal or oral sex
  • Wash your hands with soap before, during and after sex
  • Clean your private parts before and after sex
  • Women should wash the outer area around their genitals with plain warm water. You can use a mild soap, but it can cause irritation
  • Avoid douching as a method to wash out your vagina, it can increase the risk of infections, pregnancy issues and other problems. The vagina can clean itself naturally
  • Health experts advise men to properly cleanse especially underneath the foreskin which is vital
  • Go to the bathroom and urinate after sex. It helps to flush out germs if you empty your bladder. Bacteria can get into your urethra during sex. Drinking a glass of water after sex is recommended

Shigella sonnei is extremely resistant to antibiotics, making sexual hygiene even more important. The World Health Organization states that antibiotic resistance is one of the most substantial threats to worldwide health. Germs such as bacteria and fungi develop the power to defeat drugs used to treat them, the bacteria are not killed off and continue to grow so ensure vigilance about your sexual hygiene.

How can you check your sexual health?

Better2Know can help you in taking care of your sexual health. If you are worried about your sexual health including STIs and HIV, then speak with one of our highly trained and friendly personal advisors confidentially today by phone or live chat.

We offer individual STI tests and HIV tests and comprehensive screens which are created by medical experts such as our Peace of Mind Screen or our Early Platinum Screen which can detect the presence of eleven infections as early as 14 days since any incident or concern.

Our knowledgeable team is here to help you 24 hours a day, seven days a week to obtain peace of mind about your health. We can arrange discreet testing at a clinic near you, with a private nurse visit, or you can order a convenient home test kit.


[1] Shigella: Gay and bisexual men warned over highly infectious and ‘extremely antibiotic-resistant’ bug

[2] Shigella

[3] Sexual hygiene tips 5 things every man and woman should do after sex

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