One 10-second kiss can transfer 80 million bacteria

Originally posted on *Medical News Today

In the 1960s, a singer named Betty Everett belted, “If you wanna know if he loves you so, it’s in his kiss!” Covered by Cher in the 1990s, the song neglects to mention what is also “in his kiss” – 80 million bacteria, according to a new study published in the journal Microbiome.

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What is “in his kiss”? According to the latest study, 80 million bacteria.

Before germaphobes swear off kissing forever, it should be noted that over 100 trillion microorganisms naturally live in our bodies. Called the microbiome, they are vital for digesting food, synthesizing nutrients and preventing disease.

The researchers – led by Remco Kort, of TNO (Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research) and adviser to the Micropia museum of microbes in the Netherlands – note that a number of different factors are important for shaping our individual microbiota, including genetic relatedness, diet and age.

But our surroundings – including the individuals with whom we interact – also affect our microbiota. The team notes that our mouths themselves contain over 700 varieties of bacteria, and these are also influenced by those we are closest to – particularly our romantic partners.

Kort says that as far as he and his colleagues know, “the exact effects of intimate kissing on the oral microbiota have never been studied. We wanted to find out the extent to which partners share their oral microbiota, and it turns out, the more a couple kiss, the more similar they are.”

Probiotic bacteria in partner’s mouth rose threefold after kiss

To further study how kissing affects oral microbiota, Kort and his team assessed 21 couples who completed questionnaires on their kissing behavior, including average intimate kiss frequency.

“Intimate kissing involves full tongue contact, and saliva exchange appears to be a courtship behavior unique to humans and is common in over 90% of known cultures,” he says.

The researchers cite a recent study detailing the importance of kissing in human mating, which proposes that the “first kiss” serves to assess a potential mate. They add:

“Kissing may contribute in mate assessment and bonding via sampling of chemical taste cues in the saliva, including those resulting from the metabolic activity of the bacterial community on the surface of the tongue.”

After taking swab samples to determine the composition of each individual’s oral microbiota on the tongue and in the saliva, the researchers found that when couples intimately kiss at high frequencies, their salivary microbiota become similar. In fact, nine intimate kisses per day was linked to couples having “significantly shared salivary microbiota.”

In order to quantify bacteria transfer, one individual from each couple drank a probiotic beverage with specific varieties of bacteria called Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria.

Results showed that after kissing intimately, the quantity of probiotic bacteria in the other individual’s saliva rose threefold, and during a 10-second kiss, a total of 80 million bacteria were transferred.

“This study indicates that a shared salivary microbiota requires a frequent and recent bacterial exchange and is therefore most pronounced in couples with relatively high intimate kiss frequencies,” write the authors.

Saliva bacteria ‘only transiently present,’ while tongue bacteria stay long term

Another finding from the study reveals an essential role for mechanisms behind selection of oral microbiota – particularly those on the tongue. Though tongue microbiota were more similar among partners than unrelated individuals, the similarity was not altered with more frequent kissing, which is in contrast to microbiota found in saliva.

The researchers further explain:


”Our findings suggest that the shared microbiota among partners is able to proliferate in the oral cavity, but the collective bacteria in the saliva are only transiently present and eventually washed out, while those on the tongue’s surface found a true niche, allowing long-term colonization.”

To calculate the number of bacteria that are transferred during a kiss, the researchers used average transfer values and assumptions related to bacterial transfer, kiss contact surface and the value for average volume of saliva.

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What Women Think About When Making Out (a Guest Blog)

***The following is a guest blog written for the site. I find it provides an interesting perspective I want to share, so I hope you enjoy. XO, jd

After a tumultuous breakup, women often rewind and go back to point A, where it all began – the kiss.  The memories may include a powerful smell of cologne, a faint taste of tobacco and coffee, or the softest lips you ever felt.  Maybe he was sloppy and lacking experience, or perhaps his tongue was too aggressive.  Or maybe all you could think at the time was, “SEX, SEX, SEX!”  The point is when making out, female brains are on high alert.  A kiss is often a foreteller of where things will lead, but we have to know how to read the signs and listen to our own thoughts.

WE ARE KISSING.  Sometimes in the act of kissing this is all I’m thinking.  Like a giddy 14-year-old who has waited 9 weeks for the next step with her first boyfriend, the first kiss feels all the same.  “I never expected him or myself to initiate this, but it’s happening.  It’s happening!”  He likes you, definitely.  Time to parade.

I AM FALLING IN LOVE.  Already.  And we’re thinking about the future: “Wait ‘til I tell my girlfriends about this!”  “Are you going to call me after I leave your car?”  “We’d be a cute couple, picnicking by the lake.”  “Perhaps, we’ll get married.  No, that’s crazy talk!  …We’d have hot children though, with our super genes.”  When we’re kissing, we always want more.  And sometimes it’s not just sex – it’s a phone call the next morning.

WOW HE IS USING A LOT OF TONGUE.  And other thoughts like these.  “Is his hand on my chest– how did that get there?” “My pants are unzipped?  He’s a magician.”  “SLOW DOWN!”  “Am I being too uptight?  I should play it cool.  Maybe I should graze his crotch.”  Tune into your heart, and I’m not being mushy here.  If he’s too aggressive and you’re feeling nervous, tell him to slow down.

AM I DOING THIS RIGHT?  “Does my breath stink?  Fuck, I never quite figured out how to best kiss.  That eHow article said to kiss his jawline.  Oh, biting his lip is supposed to be sexy.  That was awkward… I’ve been kissing the left side for about 3 minutes.  Now to the right.  Shit, we just bumped heads.”  If we’re still kissing, we’re probably doing it right.  Don’t get hung up in the small details, or you might find yourself obsessing over everything in the relationship.

OOPS, HOW DID WE END UP HERE?  “We just had a few drinks!  I barely found you interesting! … Ah, yes, we did have a few drinks.”  “How did we get from talking about the most effective natural detergent to here?”  One word: hormones.  Take a breather and clear your head before moving forward.

WILL THIS LEAD TO SEX?  Kissing stimulates your ovaries to start producing testosterone, which increases sexual excitement.  “This is definitely leading to sex.  Did I shave my vag?”  This is a special moment.  You’re intoxicated by hormones and you just let everything go, including insecurities about your body.

WAIT, WE SHOULD STOP.  “This will not go any further.”  “I want to take things slow.”  “Okay, five more minutes … Two more minutes … Fuck.”  Hahaha… GET LOOSE. 🙂

WE ARE GOING TO HAVE SEX. THAT IS A FACT.  Apparently adrenaline increases while we’re kissing and our inhibitions lower, meaning it’s unlikely we’ll stop to talk about alternative medicine or something.  “I wonder if sex will be good …  Does he have a nice penis?”  If the kissing is good, most likely sex will be even better.

A WANDERING MIND.  “What time is it?”  “Shoot I have to pay my phone bill tomorrow.”  “Game of Thrones tomorrow night!”  “Definitely getting a rash from your stubble.”  “He’s wearing Carlos Santana cologne.  I feel awesome that I know that.  What am I doing again?  Right, kissing!!!”  We’re multi-taskers too.  You kiss and undress us; we kiss and do our taxes.  This is not necessarily a negative thing, but be aware of the fact you aren’t fully caught up in the moment.

While a good first kiss may not always lead to a magical relationship, it’s quite often a bad first kiss is a sign of a lack of chemistry.  I’m a big believer in second chances, but if the spark isn’t there, it may be time to go in search of a new first kiss.

The Rules of a Threesome

Rules of a Threesome: The Comfort Zone

Having written previously about how to initiate a threesome, I think it’s important to dig deeper and look at some of the potential hazards lovers must navigate once they’ve found the third person for their “ménage à trois.”

Pre-Game Report: Get in the Zone

While sensitivity, compassion and respect are foundationally important in all forms of sexual
exploration, they’re critical to threesomes, where the tastes and boundaries of each person
must be clearly communicated in advance to maximize “the comfort zone” for all involved.

I subtitled my jessica drake’s Guide to Wicked Sex DVD from Wicked Pictures Every Man’s
Fantasy because, ultimately, this has been my experience after years of interaction with my
male fans. So let’s get real. Men, if another woman is entering the sexual equation, keep
one thing in mind: It’s not all about you! If you’ve followed the steps outlined in my previous
Threesomes article, then this lady is there because she’s likely as attracted to your partner as she is to you. Everything you do physically and emotionally should reinforce this chemistry.

Possibly the most important rule to remember during a threesome is the Rule of Firsts. Always make sure your everyday partner is the first you go down on, have intercourse with, give an orgasm, or receive your semen. The more couples I speak with who engage in threesomes, the more I understand this to be the Golden Rule when it comes to bringing in a third person.

Halftime Report: First Among Equals

Once you are in bed, pleasure both women with as much mutual attention as possible. Be
generous! As you’ve already discussed boundaries and positions in advance, modulate your sensual choices accordingly – for example, if kissing isn’t within your new lover’s comfort zone, touch and caress her body passionately without “going there,” even if the heat of the moment is attempting to persuade you otherwise.

And of course, it’s the same once the penetration begins. If she seemed disinterested in, say, one-on-one missionary sex with you when specific positions were discussed earlier, don’t try to press the point once all three of you are between the sheets.

If you’re truly 100% present with both ladies as you move from each mutual act to another, you’ll treat each woman as “firsts among equals.” And chances are, you’re going to enjoy the way your sexual savvy is rewarded.

Post-Game Wrap-Up: Don’t Be the Last to Know

As this heady adventure becomes a happy memory,  be open and honest with your partner
about your experience. You may think you were the perfect gentleman, but invite her opinions, good and bad.

Communication and honesty are key, as always. Regardless of whether you both see more
threesomes looming on the horizon, candidly discuss what you got right and even, more
importantly, where you may have gone wrong – especially if any sexual “lines in the sand” were blurred or, even worse, crossed.

Of the three stages of sharing I’ve outlined here, the “Post-Game Wrap-Up” may be the most important of all, as it will probably dictate whether or not you and your partner ever go down this road again. So don’t just listen to her thoughts – hear them.

Be completely honest in your own feelings as well. This is why honesty is so paramount – if you don’t believe your partner has accepted your thoughts on the subject with sincerity, you’ll find yourself reminding her of it in a million ways.

While I touched on positions ever so briefly here, be sure to investigate jessica drake’s Guide to Wicked Sex: Threesomes – Every Man’s Fantasy for more explicit and varied examples.

I’ll be writing more on this topic in the near future, but in the meantime, I wish you the best as your own “Game Day” threesome approaches. If you stay within the comfort zone, not only will you cross the finish line, you’ll recognize it like a long-lost friend.