sexual health

Is it Possible to Contract Gonorrhea From Making Out?

Photo: Zac Macaulay/Getty Images

As if we didn’t have enough to worry about, research now suggests that kissing — the only good thing left — could transmit gonorrhea.

The Washington Post reported on a study conducted by Australian researchers and published Thursday in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections that suggests kissing with tongue might lead to the spread of oral gonorrhea, especially among gay and bisexual men, who were the focus of the study.

The research consisted of a questionnaire to which 3,677 gay and bisexual men responded, 6 percent of whom had tested positive for oral gonorrhea. The survey asked them about their sexual history. Over the prior three months, the subjects averaged four kissing-only partners, five kissing-with-sex partners and one partner with whom they’d only had sex. The study indicated that those with high numbers of kissing-only and kissing-with-sex partners had a greater risk of testing positive for oral gonorrhea. The study comes to the conclusion that “these data suggest that kissing may be associated with transmission of oropharyngeal gonorrhoea in MSM, irrespective of whether sex also occurs.”

The Center for Disease Control classifies gonorrhea as a sexually transmitted infection of the genitals, rectum, or throat that can be contracted through vaginal, anal, or oral sex. The consensus among health professionals at the moment is that oral gonorrhea is contracted through oral sex, not kissing as well.

Eric Chow, the lead author on the study, said in a statement to the Washington Post:

“We found that the more people an individual kissed also placed them at an increased risk of having throat gonorrhea, irrespective of whether sex occurred with the kissing. This data challenges the accepted traditional transmission routes of gonorrhea held for the past 100 years.”

This study comes in the midst of great concern over the growing rate of gonorrhea diagnoses in the United States. Between 2013 and 2017, gonorrhea diagnoses increased by 67 percent and nearly doubled among men, the CDC reports. Certain strains of gonorrhea have also become resistant to most antibiotics.

In short, it’s a great time to be gonorrhea, and that’s bad for everyone else.

Is it Possible to Contract Gonorrhea From Making Out?