Thought you couldn’t catch an STI from a cheeky pash? Think again. Scientists have discovered cases of oral gonorrhea being transmitted via tonsil tennis.
An Australian study published on Thursday in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections has found that the ol’ tonguey can transmit oropharyngeal gonorrhea (oral gonorrhea).
The research from the sexual health centre in Melbourne included more than 3000 gay and bisexual men. Researchers quizzed them on their sexual history. Six per cent of the study group had tested positive for oral gonorrhea.
The volunteers reported that, on average, they had four kissing-only partners, five kissing-with-sex partners and one sex-only partner in the past three months.
The team of authors found that the risk of contracting the infection increased with a higher number of kissing-only and kissing-with-sex partners.
“We found that the more people an individual kissed also placed them at an increased risk of having throat gonorrhoea, irrespective of whether sex occurred with the kissing. This data challenges the accepted traditional transmission routes of gonorrhea held for the past 100 years, where a partner’s penis was thought to be the source of throat infection,” says Eric Chow, the lead author of the study, speaking to The Washington Post.
“We found after we controlled statistically for the number of men kissed, that ‘the number of men someone had sex with but did not kiss was not associated with throat gonorrhoea.
“Through our research, we have shown that gonorrhea can be passed on through kissing. This will help people understand how the infection was introduced — particularly if they have not have been sexually active,” Chow continues.
“We know it’s unlikely that people will stop kissing, and our team is already doing a clinical trial examining whether daily use of mouthwash could prevent gonorrhoea. If it works, it could be a simple and cheap intervention for everyone.”