What You Need to Know About a New STI, Mycoplasma Genitalium

Hannah Smothers
Photo credit: Ruben Chamorro

From Cosmopolitan

A (relatively) recently discovered infection called mycoplasma genitalium, or MG, is under close watch as health experts in the UK worry it could develop into a superbug. According to CNN, the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV published updated treatment guidelines to prevent the spread of MG.

Never heard of it? You're not alone. MG was only recently discovered in the early 1980s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And not a ton is known about its effects in people who become infection. Similar to chlamydia and gonorrhea, MG is largely asymptomatic in men and women. When symptoms are present, they include irritation, bleeding after sex, and painful urination for women; and watery discharge from the penis and painful urination for men, according to CNN.

Unlike other STIs, MG is dangerous because of the conditions it can cause. According to a 2011 study published in PLoS Pathogens, MG is known to cause pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and cervicitis (an infection of the cervix) in women.

A big reason why British health experts are so concerned with trying to contain the spread of MG is because it's rapidly becoming resistant to treatment options. Because of its misleading symptoms, MG is often treated as chlamydia. Dr. Mark Lawton, a consultant in sexual health and HIV and the clinical lead at the Liverpool Center for Sexual Health, told CNN the chlamydia antibiotics are creating resistance in MG infections, and even making it stronger.

"We are already seeing resistance to mycoplasma genitalium because we are using antibiotics that treat chlamydia very well but doesn't treat mycoplasma very well," Lawton told CNN.

So what do you need to know? As always, use a barrier method-i.e. a condom-when having sex. Get tested for STIs regularly, and pay attention to any odd symptoms or sensations in and around your pelvic area. And the good news for MG in particular is that, according to CNN, a clinical test for the infection became available in the past year, making tracking, treating, and controlling the spread of infection a bit easier.

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