Tongue kissing, also known as French kissing, was associated with a higher risk of oropharyngeal, or throat, gonorrhea infections among men who have sex with men (MSM) in a recent Australian study, MedPage Today reports.


Publishing their findings in Sexually Transmitted Infections, researchers analyzed data regarding MSM 16 years old and older who sought services from a public sexual health center in Melbourne between March 2016 and February 2017. The participants all reported kissing or having sex with a male partner within the previous three months, received oropharyngeal gonorrhea testing and were invited to participate in a survey about their kissing and sex history.


The survey asked about the number of partners within the past three months that they had only French kissed, the number of partners with whom they had only had sex (defined as oral or anal sex) but had not French kissed and the number of partners with whom they had had sex and French kissed.


A total of 3,091 MSM provided 3,677 survey responses. On average, the men, who had a median age of 30 years old, reported 4.3 kissing-only partners, 1.4 sex-only partners and 5.0 kissing-with-sex partners within the previous three months.


A total of 229 (6.2%) of the men had oropharyngeal gonorrhea. The throat gonorrhea rate was about 3% among those who reported only sex-only partners and about 6% among those who reported only kissing-only partners.


After adjusting the data to account for various differences between the participants, the study authors found that compared with men who reported zero or one kissing-only partners, those who reported four or more kissing-only partners were 1.46-fold more likely to have throat gonorrhea. Compared with those with zero or one kissing-and-sex partners, those reporting at least four such partners were 1.81-fold more likely to have gonorrhea.


The men’s number of sex-only (with no kissing) partners was not associated with throat gonorrhea risk.


The study authors suggest that antiseptic mouthwash may mitigate the risk of throat gonorrhea.


To read the MedPage Today article, click here.


To read the study abstract, click here.