Battle of the Sexes: Does Lyme Affect Men and Women Differently?

I will say it until my face turns blue. No single Lyme patient is the same. You can’t compare yourself to another patient. Everyone has different symptoms, a different clinical history, reacts differently to a protocol… you just can’t. But I was curious as to if there was a science or statistics between men and women in relevance to Lyme disease. Is there any evidence that Lyme affects men and women are affected differently? I did find some interesting information for you readers. 🙂


One of the studies done by the Centers for Disease Control did two-tier testing for Lyme. After treatment (they follow CDC one month and you’re cured protocol), 70% of women who tested negative for Lyme retook the test and remained negative. 35% of men who tested negative ended up with a positive test. Hmm. 


Polychromatic flow cytometry, (yeah I know that sounds like a bunch of gibberish, it means a rapid method of reduction and analysis of complex multi parameter data… okay.. that’s not helping…. so ummm… a rapid way of getting information?) showed that women had a higher frequency is CD4+CCR5+ T cells before treatment compared to men. So what the fuck does that mean? Sorry folks, I am a Google queen! Helper, suppressor, and killer T cells. 


Phew. That whole paragraph reading it hurt my eyes. Hopefully I explained that right. But it shows that Lyme might have a different affect in men than it does women.  It is a possibility that men and women have different autoimmune responses to this disease. 


After researching, I found an interesting fact about Lyme and it’s cycles. Lyme has a different cycle than a lot of bacterial infections. Many types of bacteria spread within 12 to 24 hours. Which is what makes it easier to attack when you take a few weeks of antibiotics. You are bound to kill it. Lyme on the other hand is much different. Evidence shows that men and women DO have different cycles. Men are estimated to have a 21 day cycle. Women, a 30 day cycle. I should also note that women tend to have their worse herx symptoms while ovulating. And you know what? Right after my monthly visitor, my symptoms were indeed much worse.  


Men obviously don’t ovulate, so that is different for them. After having a thorough appointment at Dr. J’s office, I was recommended to have an ovulation suppressing birth control. I can only take progesterone as I have a blood clotting disorder, Factor 5 Leiden, so I went with the Depo Provera shot. And you know what? No periods = less herx reactions. 

Ladies, if you aren’t on birth control, you should consider an ovulation suppressing kind. During treatment it seems very beneficial for the herx reactions, and another bonus is it shrinks ovarian cysts, which is very common among Lymie women. 


Symptoms. I know you all were wondering that part. And I was too. 


-Men have a tendency to have a higher rate of diagnoses for things like ALS and Parkinson’s.  As some of you know, most people diagnosed with ALS or Parkinson’s are in fact Lyme positive. It is said that you are 1.5 times greater to have Parkinson’s. It is said that you have a 20% greater chance of an ALS diagnosis if you are a man. In Dr. Klinghardt’s studies, 100% of his patients tested positive for Lyme disease were ALS, Parkinson’s, or MS patients. I did a blog awhile back, “Lyme – The Great Imitator”, if you would like to know more about the topic of Lyme and confusion with other diagnoses.  ALS and Parkinson’s-like symptoms are likely to be a man’s symptoms.


-One study stated that is was 4 times more likely for a man to commit suicide than a woman that is differing from Lyme disease. This would lead me to believe that there could be a higher and deeper level of depression that men seem to fall into. 

Just my two cents on this, but I strongly believe that men could fall under this category due to the fact that men don’t discuss their feelings or emotions much like women do as it is associated by society as sort of “taboo” for men to express their feelings. And having chronic illness, it is necessary to talk to someone, anyone to sort through everything. 


– Men are also more likely to suffer from alcoholism, drug addiction, and commit acts of violence. According to Lyme Md, these are well known surrogates of depression and other mental illnesses. 


-In one study following those under treatment for Lyme, women tended to complain more about  joint pain, heart palpitations, nausea,vomiting, and vision changes compared to men during their course of treatment. 


-Women have a much higher rate of MS and MS-like symptoms. In fact, 4 out of 5 diagnosed MS patients are women, compared to men. As said above in Klinghardt’s research, 100% of his MS patients tested positive for Lyme disease. Women are also more likely to develop Fibromyaglia-like pain and symptoms like chronic fatigue. I say “like” because I really need to work on a post about my beliefs on the existence of Fibromyalgia. But I’m slackin’. Also, women are much more likely to develop Post Lyme Disease Syndrome. Another topic I think is a load of hooey from the CDC. 


– Women are twice as likely to suffer from autoimmune diseases then men. Which may play a role in different deficiencies among Lyme patients. 



I guess there really is no comparing, but now I know there is a little bit deeper science between men, women, and Lyme disease. I also think this further brushes upon my original post “Lyme – The Great Imitator”, as many of these common diagnoses among men and women show some of the differences on how Lyme manifests itself based off of your sex. This topic definitely needs to be researched more one day, and hopefully someone will 🙂 


Once again: More info, feel free to share and discuss 🙂 And wishing you a happy, pain-free Tuesday!,,,,,,,,,, Photo cred:

10 thoughts on “Battle of the Sexes: Does Lyme Affect Men and Women Differently?

  1. Wow, that is great info. When my son was diagnosed with Autism, one of the first things I read about it was – “If you know one person with Autism, you know ONE person with Autism.”

    I guess the same is true of Lyme! So many differences from one person to the next.

    • Absolutely! I just thought it was interesting that symptoms were more or less diagnoses like ALS and Parkinson’s for men, MS, Fibro and CFS type things for women.

      So there are some differences, but not saying that one sex can’t have the other symptoms.

  2. This is indeed something that could/should be looked into more, thanks!

    I think the gender ratio between “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” sufferers is also something 3:1 or 4:1 even, women vs men.
    My treating doctor (who was mostly a CFS-specialist until newer & better test methods started showing at least 55% had Lyme and/or coïnfections) believes a big difference in the way Lyme affects women and men, is indeed influenced by hormones, and a.o. because of this:

    Many CFS/Lyme patients show a Th1 > Th2 shift, i.e. the balance shifts away in disfavour of the part of the immune system fighting viruses but also intracellular bacteria (like Borrelia)(the Th1).

    Testosterone has Th1-immune strengthening qualities, whereas female sex hormones act rather Th1-suppressing. (because of babies, so the mother’s body wouldn’t “reject” the fetus like it would a transplanted organ)

    Because of this, men will in general have ‘less severe’ symptoms when infected with bacteria like Borrelia/Lyme, because their immune systems will be able to surpress the infection for longer; they may exhibit clear Lyme symptoms, but in much smaller degree than women.

    This is very visible when both partners in a long-term relationship are tested for Lyme, where only the woman/wife is “ill”. Very often [through sexual transmission?], the man will also test positive and think/say, ‘but I’m not ill at all!’.
    But then after initiating treatment, they start noticing getting clearer in the head, less fatigued etc, just feeling better than ever in general.
    It then becomes clear, that they had been having (milder Lyme) all along, but either blamed the fatigue on having to take care of a sick wife, or just on being men & not complaining about it [esp. if your spouse is 10x as bad as you], or thinking it’s “just the way they are” (lazy, impulsive/easily agitated, or w/e).

    Obviously there are also MANY men who do get seriously ill, once even their ‘stronger’ Th1 somehow fails & the bacteria go rampant; but it is an explanation why the amount of severe cases in women is several times higher than in men nonetheless.

    Regards, a man (with ‘serious’ Lyme disease – damn you Testosterone/Th1 😉 )

  3. This is all very interesting and I can see some of the patterns. But while I know to be skeptical of CDC info when it comes to Lyme, I’m a bit confused by your first set of data. If 70% of women who are treated for Lyme test negative after (CDC) treatment does that mean they are saying 30% test positive? On the other side comparing the statistic that 35% of the men test positive is saying that the same control group (people who test negative but still get CDC treatment) comparing men to women only have a 5% difference in test outcome, right (if 35% of men are + then 65% are negative)? 5% doesn’t seem like a big difference, especially considering the room for error…or am I reading/understanding something wrong? Kind of interesting statistics for CDC to be tracking too, wonder where the’re going with that…

    • The CDC and other researchers have different “research”. But yes you are correct, they say one thing but even their research is “fuzzy”. I post my sources on the bottom of each blog if you would like to take a look and get more information. 🙂 I just like to write about the basics to give people general information.

  4. I understood some of that – my CD57 NK was <20 and my B and T cells were "under the chart" too 😦 so of course negative WB.

    I'll read your links later – any stats of brain atrophy? Yes I have it – SPECT pending.

    my pain and everything else is intensified during my period – but i can't take hormones b/c of heart and BP issues….i personally think a hysterectomy is in order 🙂 something else i must research….

    keep posting and hang in there. gotta tweet you now 🙂

  5. Pingback: Battle of the Sexes: Does Lyme Affect Men and Women Differently? | Slices Of Lyme Pie

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