Sexually active gay men carry more intestinal parasites than other people, especially when having many sex partners. Not all parasites are harmless, some can cause severe diarrhoea. With the right antibiotic, the pathogens are eliminated within a few days.
The term intestinal parasites covers various microorganisms and bacteria that can cause very unpleasant discomfort in the gastrointestinal tract and anal area. Giardia (formerly called Lamblia), amoebae, and shigella are particularly easily transmitted during sex. They can cause dysentery, a serious intestinal disease with severe diarrhoea.
Typical gay hot spots for parasites are saunas, porn cinemas, darkrooms, sex parties, and other places where men have sex with each other, in groups or in succession. Intestinal parasites can be transmitted especially during rimming, but also through fingering and playing with sex toys.
How can I protect myself?
In darkrooms, saunas, and at sex parties: wash your hands every now and then. If you often have diarrhoea and frequently visit gay sex venues, have a physician check you for intestinal parasites once a year.
How do intestinal parasites show themselves?
Parasite-triggered diseases are often accompanied by diarrhoea, abdominal cramps and fever, nausea, vomiting, and headaches. In severe cases, the diarrhoea can be bloody and slimy. Usually, the disease improves on its own after two to three weeks, but the pathogens can also cause permanent illness.
Over-the-counter drugs for diarrhoea might relieve the symptoms, but instead of killing the pathogens, they actually delay their elimination. That means: your diarrhoea lasts longer, gets worse, and you pass the bacteria on to others. On the other hand the right antibiotic kills the pathogens within a few days. When you do not have sex with others until you have completed the course of the treatment you help break the chain of infection.
Partners should also get examined to prevent a ping-pong effect. Sex toys should be cleaned throroughly. Opened lubricant packs should be disposed off for safety reasons, as the parasites could spread again from there as well.