Got a hot date? Hitting the mouthwash before you go out? Well there now may be more reasons to gargle than simply freshening up. A small study in Melbourne has found that good old Listerine kills gonorrhoea bacteria in the throat.
Gonorrhoea is caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoea and it’s commonly known to cause the clap – the classic condition of pain with peeing and a milky discharge from the penis. But you can also get this little nasty in the throat, where it may cause no symptoms at all. Gonorrhoea gets into the throat through oral sex, and recent research suggests it may even be possible to catch it by deep kissing.
There are strains of gonorrhoea overseas which are resistant to all the usual antibiotic treatments available, and sexual health doctors in this country hold grave concerns for how we will manage this once these strains hit our shore.
So, short of spending your whole life wrapped in latex, how can you avoid catching it? The good news is that a simple, old-fashioned mouth gargle may be the answer.
The researchers from the Melbourne Sexual Health Clinic found that in people who had tested positive for gonorrhoea on a throat swab, having a gargle with Listerine reduced their chance of testing positive again by 80%. It was noted that it was important to gargle properly with it, not just swish it round in the mouth.
Advertisements for Listerine as far back as 1879 claimed that it could cure gonorrhoea, so it will be very interesting in time to hear the final results of this ongoing study.
Incidentally, gonorrhoea can also hide out in the rectum, but at this stage no one is suggesting douching with mouthwash! Apart from the fact that it would be ouchy, it might also cause damage to the lining of the back passage.
In the meantime though, gargle away!