Image credit: iStock/AndreyPopov Image credit: iStock/AndreyPopov

A certain brand of mouthwash could help reduce the spread of the clap, according to new research. Listerine mouthwash may be helpful in stopping gonorrhoea from spreading when used regularly, suggests researchers at a clinic in Melbourne.

Gonorrhoea is a common sexually transmitted disease (STD) that has seen a rise in cases in many areas around the world. As well as being spread to a partner when having intercourse, it can also be transmitted via oral sex.

If spread during oral sex, you can end up carrying the virus in your throat for several months without experiencing any symptoms, which means you can pass it on without realising.

Recent months have seen an increase in gonorrhoea cases, which is linked to a decline in condom use. While it can be treated with antibiotics, this can mean there is a risk of antibiotic-resistant strains emerging, such as was found in Leeds last year.

While wearing condoms can help to cut the spread of STDs, researchers suggest that gargling with Listerine mouthwash on a daily basis can help to stop it being transmitted via oral sex.

Researchers used Listerine Cool Mint and Total Care in laboratory tests, both of which contain 21.6 per cent alcohol. They used different dilutions of these and applied them to cultures of the STD. To compare the results, they also used salt water on cultures.

It was found that if applied for up to a minute, dilutions of up to one in four dramatically reduced the bacteria, while salt water was not effective.

The researchers then assessed 196 gay and bisexual men who had previously been diagnosed with gonorrhoea in their mouths. Almost a third tested positive to the STD in their mouth at the start of the study.

Of those who had the STD, a third was asked to rinse and gargle with Listerine every day, while the other participants were asked to use a saline solution. It was found that after using Listerine for just one minute, the amount of gonorrhoea bacteria in the throat was reduced by around 48 per cent. They were also 80 per cent less likely to test positive for the STD five minutes after gargling.

In comparison, the saline solution only resulted in a 16 per cent reduction in bacteria.

While more research is needed to confirm these findings, it is still important that you use protection and that you get tested for STDs, bearing in mind that some can be transmitted orally.