Of all STDs, gonorrhea is getting more attention these days as it’s on the rise in many areas and is developing drug resistance. In some parts of the world, doctors are down to just one drug that can effectively treat the infections.
This is scary, as anyone who is sexually active can get gonorrhea and if left untreated, it can lead to long term pain in the abdomen and even female infertility.
And while gonorrhea can be spread through contact with infected genitals, it’s also been found that the bacteria can survive for weeks and possibly even months in an infected person’s throat, without any symptoms surfacing.
Nasty. But a new solution to this problem may have been found. BBC.com reports that researchers in Australia have found an impressively simple answer to combating what’s now known as ‘throat gonorrhea’: rinsing with mouthwash.
How was it discovered? Scientists led by Prof Christopher Fairley from Monash University in Melbourne tested 58 men with throat gonorrhea. The study had them gargle with salt water and mouthwash to see the effects.
While the salt solution didn’t do much, the mouthwash, it was found, reduced the amount of infectious bacteria in the participants’ mouths significantly.
Researchers are now saying that further studies are needed to figure out how long the cleansing effect can last.
As a result, they are starting a 3-month trial to study the effects of using mouthwash daily on those with the oral infection.
“These organisms have been with us humans for thousands of years and will continue to be. The challenge is working out ways to control transmission and make sure we have drugs that can still treat it,” Prof Fairley said to the BBC.
“If you could use a mouthwash there’s a chance at the population level that it might make a difference to infection rates,” he added.
Symptoms of a gonorrhea infection in men can include burning while peeing, a white, yellow or green discharge from the penis and painful or swollen testicles.
Scarily, most women who are infected with gonorrhea show no symptoms at all, but they can include pain or burning while peeing, increased discharge and vaginal bleeding between periods.
According to the CDC, rectal infections in both men and women can show itself through discharge, anal itching, soreness, bleeding and pain during bowel movements.
The best way to avoid contracting gonorrhea is to use a condom during sex.