Using Saliva as Lube Can Cause Rectal Gonorrhea

"Nearly half" of all rectal gonorrhea cases may be eliminated if men did not use their partners' saliva as a lubricant during anal sex, reports a study published recently in Sexually Transmitted Infections. However, the authors note, "It is likely that the public health message from our findings is complicated and involves more than simply recommending that saliva is not used as a lubricant for anal sex."

The study, which tested participants for gonorrhea and also questioned them about anal sex practices other than penile-anal intercourse, found that receptive partners who used their partners' saliva as a lubricant were more than 2 times more likely to have rectal gonorrhea -- even after adjusting for factors such as condom use, HIV status and gonorrhea infection of the throat.

Other studies have found that using saliva as a lubricant during anal sex is common practice among men who have sex with men, and gonorrhea bacteria can be detected in the saliva of people with pharyngeal (throat) infections.  The current study is the first to provide evidence that saliva from a person with a pharyngeal gonorrhea infection may substantially increase risk for rectal infections when that partner's saliva is used as a lubricant during anal sex.

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