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MS and Sexual Behavior

Is Multiple Sclerosis Increased
By the Passing of an Infectious Agent?

Some of my patients have reported to me that they have had an MS-like presentation and that it was caused by aggressive and chronic Lyme disease, an infection documented to be in the brain in hours to 10 days. These patients also report that some of them have been infected through sex with a partner with known Lyme. While Lyme is related to Syphilis, I have no position on this belief because even 10 minutes in the woods can cause a Lyme infection, and most lovers have some overlap in outdoor exposure.

Nevertheless, it is curious to read about possible infectious contributors to MS and to read that traditional MS societies hold a different view. I defer this to your own reflections. I would only add that fleas, tics, biting flies carry infections routinely missed, and that on the other hand, just because an infection is found in semen or vaginal secretions does not mean it is going to cause an infection.


Is multiple sclerosis a sexually transmitted infection?

Hawkes CH.

Institute of Neurology, Queen Square, London WC1, UK.

It is proposed that multiple sclerosis may be transmitted chiefly by sexual contact. Arguments favouring this include:

  • migration studies that suggest a transmissible agent in adolescence;
  • clusters of multiple sclerosis which have occurred in low prevalence areas following entry of young males;
  • the similarity of multiple sclerosis to tropical spastic paraplegia, a known sexually transmitted infection with resemblance to primary progressive multiple sclerosis;
  • an increased rate in drug misusers;
  • a similar age of onset and sex pattern to that found in sexually transmitted disease;
  • increased incidence of multiple sclerosis in those using oral contraceptives;
  • low multiple sclerosis rates in societies with a strict moral code;
  • longitudinal shifts in sex prevalence that show an increase in women after the sexual revolution of the 1960s;
  • and important exceptions to the worldwide distribution corresponding to countries with permissive attitudes to sex.

Family, conjugal pair, twin, and adoption studies are compatible with an infectious cause of multiple sclerosis if this is sexually transmitted. It is not proposed that sexual transmission is the only cause, but that inherited factors create a susceptibility to a sexually transmitted neurotropic agent. It is hoped this hypothesis might encourage a new direction of neurological research.

J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 2002 Oct;73(4):439-43

PMID: 12235316 [PubMed]

ANANOVA report

Multiple Sclerosis Society dismisses STD suggestions

Experts are dismissing a report which claimed Multiple Sclerosis could be a sexually transmitted disease.

The Multiple Sclerosis Society says the report by a British neurologist suggesting MS could be linked to STDs, is pure speculation.

The comments follow Dr Christopher Hawkes' study reviewing known patterns of MS.

Dr Hawkes has since said he was not suggesting MS, which causes progressive paralysis, is exclusively the result of a sexually transmitted infection.

But he said it could be that genetic factors increase susceptibility to a sexually transmitted agent that affects neural health.

Dr Hawkes looked at published data on MS clusters such as those in the Faroe Islands, Iceland and the Orkneys. He said analysis points to an increase in rates of the disease after the barracking of military troops in these areas.

He claimed primary progressive MS is also very similar to tropical spastic paraplegia, and pointed out this is predominantly sexually transmitted and linked with the retrovirus HTLV-1. This attacks the nerve sheaths in animals and produces delayed systemic disease in people.

Dr Hawkes wrote that rates of MS are higher in young sexually active people and it is also more prevalent in cultures with more permissive attitudes to sex and which have higher rates of sexually transmitted infections.

"I propose that multiple sclerosis is a sexually transmitted infection acquired principally during adolescence and mainly from infected and not necessarily symptomatic males," he wrote.

He suggested a case control study should be carried out to test his hypothesis. But one critic said not all the evidence supported the theory, for example it has been shown that spouses of people with MS are not at increased risk of the disease.

Story filed: 04:08 Thursday 19th September 2002 [Source unknown]

[Dr. Schaller has no position on this material. Please discuss with your personal physicians or other healthcare practitioners]

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