Oh dear, how shall we put this one delicately. You see, at TheraBreath we come across dozens and dozens of news stories every week about the connection between bad breath and bacteria. But when this one hit our desk, we were flabbergasted: According to a new study out of Russia, men may get bad breath from a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
You think you’ve read it all, and then…
It may sound funny – and c’mon, it is – but the science behind this shudder-inducing paper is quite serious, and the connection between halitosis, body odor, microbes and STDs is deeper than you might think.
For the investigation, a team of Russian specialists from the Tomsk and Kemerovo State Universities in Novobirsk tried a simple experiment. They gathered together nearly three dozen young men, about half of whom had gonorrhea (or were recovering from it). Researchers asked for saliva and armpit sweat samples from each man.
Then, they lined up the samples and smelled them.
Before you judge, ask yourself: What else is there to do in Novobirsk in the dead of winter, besides sniff the saliva and sweat of men with the clap? …Okay, actually quite a lot. (It’s the third-largest city in Russia.) But still, this was in the name if science, people!
The Russian scientists came to an interesting discovery. Men with this STD tended to have smellier breath. They also had stronger body odor. Odor-testers often described the smell as “putrid.”
So what was going on here? Can STDs really cause bad breath? Researchers sure seemed to think so.
“Perhaps, the immune-dependent reduction of the scent pleasantness in the acute phase of [STD] is part of an evolutionary mechanism ensuring, unconsciously, avoidance of a risky romantic partner,” they theorized – meaning that around sexual infections, our noses may tip us off (or really, turn us off).
It’s not so odd an idea. At TheraBreath, we’ve spent decades teaching the public that bacteria are what cause 90 percent of the odor in bad breath. Some STDs – including gonorrhea – are caused by bacterial infections. So why couldn’t having a nastymicrobial invasion directly or indirectly cause oral odor?
We already know that odor-causing conditions like thrush (an oral yeast infection) can be transmitted in the bedroom. It only makes sense that bad breath can, too.
As if anyone needed yet another reason to avoid the clap…