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Uh–oh… Using saliva for lubricant may not be good for you!

A study finds that saliva use as a lubricant for anal sex is a common sexual practice in MSM, and it may play an important role in gonorrhea transmission. Almost half of rectal gonorrhea cases may be eliminated if MSM stopped using partner’s saliva for anal sex.

Lubrication makes sex… easy, thus fun. Arguably particularly for men who have sex with men (MSM), with the backdoor known for not naturally producing lubrication, so that – sans the use of personal lubricants/lubes – soreness could happen from all the friction. There are of course three main categories of lubes (water-, silicone- or oil-based), with the water-based lubes by far the most popular (they’re water soluble, so skin and mucous membranes will absorb them; they’re easy to clean with just water and soap; and they’re condom-compatible as they don’t corrode condoms).

However, it may be time to admit that the use of water-based lubes in the Philippines is not as pervasive as it should be – in fact, even if many HIV-related service providers may deny this, when distributing condoms as part of HIV-related programs, water-based lubes are not always distributed with condoms. Suffice it to say, many Filipinos use different kinds of “pampadulas (lubrication)”.

Yes, yes… no research has been done on this yet; but – at least anecdotally – some of the “pampadulas” used particularly by men who have sex with men (including gay and bi men) and transgender women that were reported to Outrage Magazine include:

  1. Laway”/saliva (also known as “La pwah!” lotion, so-named after the spitting sound)
  2. Shampoo or conditioner
  3. Cooking oil (at times even if already used for frying fish)
  4. Egg white
  5. Hair gel

The sad news now is that, according to one study, saliva – a top choice for “pampadulas” for many – may actually not be good for you.

In “Saliva use as a lubricant for anal sex is a risk factor for rectal gonorrhea among men who have sex with men, a new public health message: a cross-sectional survey”, published in journal “Sexually Transmitted Infection”, E.P. Chow, V.J. Cornelisse, T.R. Read, D. Lee, S. Walker, J.S. Hocking, M.Y. Chen, C.S. Bradshaw and C.K. Fairley evaluated – after noting that apart from penile-anal intercourse, other anal sexual practices (rimming, fingering and saliva use as a lubricant for anal sex) are common among MSM – whether these various anal sexual practices are risk factors for rectal gonorrhea in MSM.

The authors conducted a cross-sectional survey among MSM attending Melbourne Sexual Health Centre between 31 July 2014 and 30 June 2015. Rectal gonorrhea cases were identified by culture.

The results?

Among 1,312 MSM, 4.3% (n=56) had rectal gonorrhea. Other anal sexual practices were common among MSM: receptive rimming (70.5%), receptive fingering or penis dipping (84.3%) and using partner’s saliva as a lubricant for anal sex (68.5%). Saliva as a lubricant (adjusted OR 2.17; 95% CI 1.00 to 4.71) was significantly associated with rectal gonorrhea after adjusting for potential confounding factors. Receptive rimming and fingering or penis dipping were not statistically associated with rectal gonorrhea. The crude population-attributable fraction of rectal gonorrhea associated with use of partner’s saliva as a lubricant for anal sex was 48.9% (7.9% to 71.7%).

“Saliva use as a lubricant for anal sex is a common sexual practice in MSM, and it may play an important role in gonorrhea transmission,” the authors concluded. “Almost half of rectal gonorrhea cases may be eliminated if MSM stopped using partner’s saliva for anal sex.”

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Makes you think that it’s now really time to invest in those water-based lubes…

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