Wednesday, December 21, 2016
A commercial brand of mouthwash that is readily available from supermarkets and pharmacies can help curb the growth of the bacteria responsible for gonorrhoea, reveals preliminary research published online in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections.
Daily rinsing and gargling with the product might be a cheap and easy way of helping to control the spread of the infection, suggest the researchers.
New cases of gonorrhoea among men are on the rise in many countries amid declining condom use, with the bulk of cases among gay/bisexual men, say the researchers.
Rising rates of gonorrhoea heighten the risk of the emergence of antibiotic resistant strains of Neisseria gonnorhoeae, the bacteria responsible for the infection, making the need for a preventive measure that doesn't rely on condoms even more urgent, they say.
As far back as 1879, and before the advent of antibiotics, the manufacturer of Listerine, a commercial brand of mouthwash, claimed that it could be used to cure gonorrhoea. But no published research has tested out this claim.
In a bid to rectify this, the researchers assessed whether Listerine could curb the growth of N. gonorrhoeae in laboratory tests and in sexually active gay/bisexual men in a clinical trial.
For the laboratory tests, different dilutions (up to 1:32) of Listerine Cool Mint and Total Care, both of which contain 21.6% alcohol, were applied to cultures of N. gonorrhoeae to see which of any of them might curb growth of the bacteria. By way of a comparison, a salt water (saline) solution was similarly applied to an identical set of cultures.
Listerine at dilutions of up to 1 in 4, applied for 1 minute, significantly reduced the number of N. gonorrhoeae on the culture plates, whereas the saline solution did not.
The clinical trial involved 196 gay/bisexual men who had previously tested positive for gonorrhoea in their mouths/throat, and who were returning for treatment at one sexual health clinic in Melbourne, Australia, between May 2015 and February 2016.
Almost a third (30%; 58) tested positive for the bacteria in their throat on the return visit.
Thirty three of these men were randomly assigned to a rinse and gargle with Listerine and 25 of them to a rinse and gargle with the saline solution.
After rinsing and gargling for 1 minute, the proportion of viable gonorrhoea in the throat was 52% among the men using Listerine compared with 84% among those using saline.
And the men using Listerine were 80% less likely to test positive for gonorrhoea in their throat five minutes after gargling than were the men using the saline solution.
The researchers admit that the monitoring period was short, so the possibility that the effects of the mouthwash might be short-lived can't be ruled out. But the laboratory test results would suggest otherwise, they say.
This research is preliminary, so a larger trial is currently under way to confirm these results and see whether the use of mouthwash could curb the spread of gonorrhoea, they say.
"If daily use of mouthwash was shown to reduce the duration of untreated infection and/or reduce the probability of acquisition of N. gonorrhoeae, then this readily available, condom-less, and low cost intervention may have very significant public health implications in the control of gonorrhoea in [men who have sex with men]," write the researchers.
Thursday, December 15, 2016
Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Pubic hair grooming is linked to a heightened risk of acquiring a sexually transmitted infection, finds research published online in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections.
The association seems to be strongest among those who groom their pubic hair frequently and intensively--a practice dubbed 'extreme grooming' by the researchers--the findings show.
Pubic hair removal is becoming increasingly common among men and women worldwide amid changing perceptions of the role of body hair in attractiveness, cleanliness, and feelings of masculinity/femininity, say the researchers.
To find out what impact this growing trend might be having on rates of sexually transmitted infections, the researchers polled a nationally representative random sample of US adults about their intimate grooming habits.
Among the 14,000+ sample of 18-65 year olds, some 7580 (56% men) completed the survey, responding to questions about the intensity (trimming or complete removal) and frequency (from daily to annually) of their public hair grooming, as well as the tools they typically used.
'Extreme' groomers were classified as those who removed all their public hair more than 11 times a year, and 'high frequency' groomers as those who trimmed their pubic hair daily or weekly.
Participants were also asked about their sexual history. Some 7470 said they had had at least one sexual partner.
Almost three out of four (74%) respondents said they had groomed their pubic hair before, with more women (84%) than men (66%), saying they had done so.
Among the groomers, 17% were classified as 'extreme' and 22% as 'high frequency', with one in 10 falling into both categories.
Overall, groomers tended to be younger, more sexually active, and to have had more annual and total lifetime sexual partners than those who said they didn't groom their pubic hair.
And the number of sexual partners among extreme groomers was higher than it was for any other category of groomer.
An electric razor was the most common grooming tool among men (42%), while a manual razor was more common among women (61%). Around one in five men and women used scissors.
In all, 13% (943) respondents said they had had at least one of the following: herpes; human papilloma virus (HPV); syphilis; molluscum; gonorrhoea; chlamydia; HIV; or pubic lice.
After factoring in age and the number of lifetime sexual partners, any type of grooming was associated with an 80% heightened risk of having a sexually transmitted infection compared with no grooming.
Intensity and frequency of grooming also seemed to be linked to the magnitude of risk. Among high frequency and extreme groomers, the practice was associated with a 3.5 to 4-fold heightened risk, particularly for infections that arise through skin on skin contact, such as herpes and HPV.
By contrast, low intensity/frequency grooming was associated with a doubling in risk of a lice infestation, suggesting that grooming might make it harder for lice to breed successfully.
This is an observational study, so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect, added to which the researchers were not able to determine the timing of grooming relative to acquisition of infection, or account for either safer sex practices or indeed risky sexual behaviours.
To explain their findings, the researchers suggest that grooming might be a proxy for higher levels of sexual activity and associated infection risk, or that it might cause tiny skin tears, through which bacteria and viruses can easily pass.
Further research is needed to shed some light on these possibilities, say the researchers. Either way, evidence of grooming could be a useful prompt for clinicians to ask about safer sex practices, or to suggest delaying sex to allow the skin to heal, they add.