If you are TTC the old fashioned way and have been having issues with conception, new evidence suggests that you may want to get both you and your partner tested for Lyme Disease.
Lyme disease is thought to be a tick-borne infection caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, a type of bacteria known as a spirochete. The Lyme spirochete resembles the agent of syphilis, long recognized as the epitome of sexually transmitted diseases. In a recent study presented at the annual Western Regional Meeting of the American Federation for Medical Research (and an abstract of the research was published in the January issue of the Journal of Investigative Medicine), Lyme disease may in fact be sexually transmitted. Of course most everyone knows that one can contract the life-long disease via tick-bite, but most people don’t know how this disease works among close individuals and as a contagion – which is why it is so important for more research to be done.
Last summer the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that Lyme disease is much more common than previously thought, with over 300,000 new cases diagnosed each year in the United States. That makes Lyme disease almost twice as common as breast cancer, and six times more common than HIV/AIDS. This may explain why the disease is more common than one would think if more than ticks were involved in transmission.
In the study, researchers tested semen samples and vaginal secretions from three groups of patients: control subjects without evidence of Lyme disease, random subjects who tested positive for Lyme disease, and married heterosexual couples engaging in unprotected sex who tested positive for the disease. As expected, all of the control subjects tested negative for Lyme disease. All the women with Lyme disease tested positive for Lyme, while about half of the men with Lyme disease tested positive for the Lyme spirochete in semen samples. Furthermore, one of the heterosexual couples with Lyme disease showed identical strains of the Lyme spirochete in their genital secretions. Although it is not understood why women with Lyme disease have consistently positive vaginal secretions, whilst semen samples are more variable, the presence of the Lyme spirochete in genital secretions and identical strains in married couples strongly suggests that sexual transmission of the disease may occur.
What does this mean for those couples trying to get pregnant, or for individuals with mysterious health symptoms? Talk to your doctor. Get tested, and discuss with your respective fertility doctors & health care providers what symptoms you are experiencing, and how to prevent transmission.
At Santa Monica Fertility we offer testing and care for all of your fertility needs. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions! We are always happy to help you on your journey to healthy parenthood.