London: There’s a little-known sexually transmitted disease (STD) that’s on the rise and could soon become a very major problem. Sexual health experts warn that Mycoplasma genitalium (MG) has the potential to become a drug-resistant superbug within a decade.
If you’ve never heard of MG, that’s not surprising. The infection was only discovered in the 1980s, yet scientists didn’t know until years later that it was actually transmitted via sex. This lack of awareness is also part of the problem; the new data suggests that just one in 10 sexual health clinics in the UK have the right kits to diagnose the infection.
What is MG?
- Mycoplasma genitalium (MG) is a bacterium that can cause inflammation of the urethra in men, causing discharge from the penis and making it painful to urinate.
- In women, it can cause inflammation of the reproductive organs (womb and fallopian tubes) too, causing pain and possibly a fever and some bleeding.
- You can get it while having unprotected sex with someone who is already infected. Condoms can prevent this spread.
- It was first identified in the UK in the 1980s and is thought to affect 1-2% of the population.
- MG does not always cause symptoms and will not always need treatment, but it can be missed or mistaken for a different sexually transmitted infection, such as Chlamydia.
MG is on the rise globally. It’s estimated that an MG infection exists in 1 to 2 percent of the population at the moment, with rates being slightly higher among women than men. It’s is passed on by sexual contact but, like all STDs, can easily be prevented by using a condom. Once infected, it is typically treated using common antibiotics, such as doxycycline, pristinamycin, or minocycline. However – here’s the problem – doctors are finding that these antibiotics are failing to treat the illness more and more due to rising antibiotic resistance.
MG is becoming resistant to antibiotics
Research by the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) found that over 70 per cent of sexual health experts said that if current practices do not change, MG will become resistant to first and second line antibiotics within a decade. If left unchecked, this could result in thousands of women each year at an increased risk of infertility from pelvic inflammatory disease caused by MG.