Is Lyme Disease Sexually Transmitted?

While we have long known that Lyme disease is contracted from tick bites, new evidence suggests that it may also be transmitted sexually, as Dr. Keith Berndtson addresses in his article, Important New Findings Regarding Lyme Bacteria (2015). Essentially, researchers cultured and identified strains of the Borrelia spirochetes characteristic of Lyme in the seminal and vaginal secretions of human test subjects, lending support to the speculation that “Lyme disease could be transmitted by intimate contact from person to person.” Dr. Berndtson is quick to point out, however, that the presence of Borrelia in genital secretions by no means necessitates sexual transmission; on the contrary, this and similar studies have failed account for the following key variables:

1. Genetics—the natural immune-response of study participants.
2. Epigenetics—the interaction of lifestyle and environmental factors.
3. The general health and wellness of participants at the time of contact.
4. The possibility of Hormesis, occurring when limited exposure to a toxin triggers an intensive immune-response throughout the entire body.

In considering these and other related variables, the question becomes one of viability versus infection, and it has yet to be determined if the Borrelia spirochetes present in genital secretions are “actually infective and able to establish themselves in a new human host by means of sexual transmission.”
What the study confirms is that strains of the Lyme infection are present in genital secretions and can be made to grow. For persons with active Lyme, the message of caution is clear—better safe than sorry, the saying goes—though it is equally clear that the medical community is long way from classifying Lyme as a sexually transmitted disease (STD).