Your dentist probably tells you to use mouthwash – now the walk-in clinic may start telling you too.
An Australian professor, Christopher Fairly, has conducted a test with men infected with gonorrhoea after theorising that the disease could be at least partly treated with shop-bought mouthwash.
His experiment was successful. Of the 58 men he brought in, those who used mouthwash saw the levels of gonorrhoea significantly decrease compared to the men who used a placebo just five minutes after gargling the mouthwash.
Encouraged by this result Fairly has said he is now looking at further studies to see how long lasting the effects are and if mouthwash offers any protection.
Sexual health doctor Anatole Menon-Johansson told the BBC that Fairly “could well be on to something”.
Gonorrhoea is a bacterium that can be transmitted through oral, vaginal or anal sex, and that remain undetected for months without showing symptoms.
The disease is causing particular problems in the UK through the rise of a drug-resistent strain, dubbed ‘Super Gonorrhoea‘, as well as rising infections: from 26,880 to 41,193 between 2012-2015, a more than 50% increase.
This strain resists the most common method of treatment, the drug azithromycin. However, it can still be treated with ceftriaxone.
If that drug fails, however, there will be no way of curing the disease. The disease results in inflammation, and is particularly dangerous for pregnant women.
Although the strain was initially seen in straight people, it has been reported in gay and bisexual men. Regular strains of gonorrhoea disproportionately affect men who have sex with men. Cases have now been found in London, the West Midlands and southern England.
It is advised to have protected sex with a condom during both oral and penetrative sex to avoid getting gonorrhoea.