Kissing your partner is one of the most fundamental things in a modern relationship. Everybody enjoys it and wants to be free to do it in public, whatever the sexual orientation or marital status of the couple. Kissing a person you fancy is maybe the first step of becoming closer with the one you kiss, as it is a sign of intimacy. Apart from that, it is also quite exciting to kissing someone for the very first time. However, modern medicine warns people to be aware of who they kiss and how carelessly they do so. Knowing the basics regarding a person's current health status before kissing them is crucial for the prevention of various infections. When it comes to kissing and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), scientists are wary, as well. However, there are many types of kissing, among which french kissing seems to be the most incriminated.
Some STDs are transmissible through kissing, like herpes, and there's evidence to support that. Others are not known to spread from kissing, but there's a likelihood they could, under the correct circumstances. Finally, there are those STDs that you probably won't ever get from kissing, like HIV.
What STD can you get from kissing?
A well-established STD you can get from kissing is herpes. There are two forms of herpes; HSV-1 or oral herpes and HSV-2 or genital herpes. Kissing or touching a person with HSV-1 is enough to acquire the infection, especially when the virus is active. Except for the mouth and oral cavity, HSV-1 can affect the genitals too. Therefore, oral, vaginal, or anal sex are routes of transmission, as well. HSV-2 mostly spreads sexually, but kissing might also transmit it from your partner to you and vice versa. Cytomegalovirus is another virus that can spread sexually, but also through the saliva, urine, or blood. Finally, syphilis is a bacterial infection that can potentially spread through kissing, in the presence of sores in the mouth of the individual with the condition.
Can gonorrhea be transmitted through kissing?
In the recent past, physicians supported that it is not possible to acquire the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae through any other way, except for oral, vaginal, or anal sex. However, a study published on May 9, 2019, done among men who have sex with men, supported the opposite. The study concluded that "These data suggest that kissing may be associated with the transmission of oropharyngeal gonorrhea in men who have sex with men, irrespective of whether sex also occurs.". Also, the findings suggested that the more people you kiss, the higher you raise the risk to acquire oral gonorrhea.
Therefore, not being sexually active doesn't entirely protect you from STDs. However, people won't stop kissing other people, meaning that abstaining from kissing could not pass as a preventive measure against oral gonorrhea.
Does oral gonorrhea go away?
The infection does go away with treatment. It is harder to treat in comparison with the typical form, but the right antibiotics must be sufficient. However, there are some strains of the bacterium responsible for the infection, that are resistant to antibiotics. Therefore, doctors suggest dual therapy. The treatment plan includes a single shot of ceftriaxone and a single dose of oral azithromycin. After treatment completion, you should abstain from any sexual activity, including kissing, for a minimum of 7 days. Don't forget to confirm whether you have the infection or not. You can do so with a quick and easy STD rapid kit test.
Can you kiss someone with oral gonorrhea?
You can, but you better don't. As mentioned previously, you can get oral gonorrhea only by kissing. Being sexually inactive but still, a kisser, does not protect you from acquiring the infection in your mouth and throat. Unfortunately, mouth-to-mouth transmission of the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae is a possible scenario, especially when french-kissing. Deep french kissing increases the risk of getting oral gonorrhea even more.
It is crucial to know that the infection might appear as a typical sore throat, accompanied by fever and swollen lymph nodes. Therefore, it is hard to distinguish between oral gonorrhea and a strep throat, especially when you rely exclusively on your symptoms. Correct testing is the key to an accurate diagnosis.
Communication is prevention
It might be uncomfortable to ask your previous, current, or future partner about STDs. However, a mature and transparent conversation is the cornerstone of prevention. If you want your partner to wear a condom, you have every right to ask for it. This way, you are letting your partner know about your expectations before it's too late. If you're the one to wear protection, you should set it as a personal rule before coming in sexual contact with anybody. Also, you should be direct and honest regarding testing. If testing for STDs is a condition for you before having sex with a new partner, then say it openly and discuss it. Finally, you shouldn't be judgmental when it comes to your partner admitting they have an STD. While most STDs are curable, those that aren't are usually preventable through protection. However, kissing is something most people don't consider dangerous. It is hard to overthink about STDs every time you're about to kiss somebody. Knowing somebody well before getting to kiss them might somehow decrease the risk of acquiring an oral STI. Researchers are currently trying to find out whether mouthwash can prevent the transmission of oral gonorrhea through kissing. If that proves to be a thing, it would be life-saving.