Scientists investigating chlamydia in the US have discovered that there are tiny organisms living deep within the urogenital tract, even in healthy men.
David Nelson, an associate professor of microbiology and immunology, and his colleagues at the University of Indiana were studying sexually transmitted diseases when they found evidence that there are many more microorganisms in the penis than experts previously realised.
The researchers found some bacteria could make a man more susceptible to infections, like chlamydia.
According to The Independent, Nelson said: “There was a signature in the chlamydial genome that suggested this organism might be interacting with other microorganisms.
“That’s what initially piqued our interest. And when we went in and started to look, we found that there were a lot more [microbes] than we would have anticipated being there.”
The researchers found evidence that the pathogens were receiving metabolites – which promote growth – from the bacteria.
In 2010, a study led by scientists at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and Johns Hopkins University found that circumcision substantially lowered the risk of STDs due to the changes in bacteria within the penis.
The report, which was published in Plos One, said men who are uncircumcised “have significantly more bacteria on their penis, and the types of bacteria are also very different”.
But the scientists behind this latest study said while some bacteria could make a man more susceptible to infections like chlamydia, others could actually help prevent them.
The researchers advised that a further study is required in the area before solid health advice can be issued.