Mouthwash Shows Promise in Preventing Gonorrhea

But don't throw out the condoms just yet
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 21, 2016 6:54 PM CST
Mouthwash May Get Rid of Gonorrhea-Causing Bacteria
Listerine: A minty way to get rid of gonorrhea?   (Target via AP)

Listerine claimed way back in 1879 that its mouthwash could "cure" gonorrhea, Live Science reports. Now a new study published Tuesday in Sexually Transmitted Infections gives credence to that claim. Or at least that's what the overly excitable media would have you believe. "A good gargle before engaging in oral sex may reduce the risk of transmitting the infection to the recipient," states Forbes (which notes more research is needed to get rid of that pesky "may"). Researchers had 58 men with gonorrhea in their throats gargle with Listerine or saltwater. The men who gargled with mouthwash for a minute were 80% less likely to test positive for gonorrhea-causing bacteria afterward.

But don't get too excited, Jezebel warns. Listerine was shown to be far more effective at getting rid of the bacteria around the tonsils than further back in the throat. And because the men were tested after only five minutes, it's unclear how long the effect lasts. It's also unclear if getting rid of gonorrhea-causing bacteria in the throat would do anything to prevent infections elsewhere on the body. While the study concludes that daily gargling may be an important preventative step, lead author Eric Chow says they “do not recommend it at any site and certainly not anywhere other than the throat" as a treatment for gonorrhea. That leaves Jezebel with its own conclusion: "Use condoms." (Terrifying further reading: Gonorrhea may beat all known drugs by 2021.)

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