Kissing Is A Risk Factor For Gonorrhea?

Photo by Emir Saldierna on Unsplash

Are gay and bisexual men contracting gonorrhea through kissing?

A new study published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections found that men who have sex with other men, or MSM, are getting STIs through kissing at alarming rates.


The study was focused on survey information from 3,677 men around the age of 30. All of whom were tested for oropharyngeal (throat) gonorrhea, but only 6.2% got a positive result.

Despite that low number of positive results, researchers were still able to get an idea of how these contractions happened. In fact, they found that men who kissed multiple same-sex partners over a three-month period had a 46-81% higher chance of contracting gonorrhea orally.

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If you think that the “multiple partners” part is a key factor in this issue, you’d be only half correct. What these Australian researchers really discovered is that men who got intimate without kissing showed no signs of gonorrhea in the throat.


Meanwhile, respondents who did kiss during their activity with other men, or even just kissed outside of the bedroom, were found to have signs of this STD. As such, they believe the passing of saliva is key. On average, Researchers say men who tested positive kissed 4.3 other men.

“Kissing may be riskier than previously thought,” said lead author Eric Chow to Reuters. “This may help people understand how the infection was introduced, particularly if they haven’t been sexually active.”


This recent study adds more to the fear of STDs growing, and especially in the United States of America where STDs are the most prominent.

In addition, an incurable form of gonorrhea sprung up last year. A man visiting Southeast Asia says he contracted the disease after getting intimate with a local. He then flew to his home country of the UK and sought medical help. Health experts were then surprised to find that the strain was incurable.

In the report, Dr. Gwenda Hughes, the head of PHE’s STI section, said last year:

“We are investigating a case who has gonorrhea which was acquired abroad and is very resistant to the recommended first line treatment. This is the first time a case has displayed such high-level resistance to both of these drugs and to most other commonly used antibiotics.”

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Unfortunately, this is just one example of how STDs seem to be growing and spreading throughout the world.

“Gonorrhea rates continue to increase, and although some interventions are bending the curve of the epidemic, we need to continue to encourage screening,” said Dr. Lindley Barbee of the University of Washington in Seattle after hearing of the Australian study.

But what can we do to combat this rise in gonorrhea rates? After all, as Dr. Chow puts it, “it’s unlikely that people will stop kissing.”

Well, Chow and colleagues are now creating a clinical trial to test whether daily mouthwash use could reduce this risk. Until results from that are available, Dr. Barbee suggests being aware of the risk and getting tested regularly.

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