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What Is Mycoplasma Genitalium? Scary Details About The New Drug-Resistant STI That Can Affect Fertility

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What Is A Mycoplasma Genitalium Infection? STI/STD Symptoms Of The Superbug That Causes Female Infertility
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Health And Wellness, Sex

Yikes.

By Elizabeth Yuko

We already know that the rates of HPV among sexually active adults are pretty high and that a new untreatable supergonorrhea is on the rise, but in addition to that, the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) has given us a new sexually transmitted disease (STD)/infection (STI) to worry about: Mycoplasma genitalium (MG).

Although the MG bacterium was first isolated in 1981, according to the BASHH, it could be the next superbug (antibiotic-resistant bacteria) — especially since little is known about the condition.

The organization recently released their draft guidelines on MG, which they hope will raise awareness of the STI and its symptoms and effects.

RELATED: Yes, You Can Get An STD In Your Butt

What is Mycoplasma Genitalium?

MG is a sexually transmitted bacterium that can cause inflammation of the urethra of a penis, resulting in discharge, according to the association.

If someone with a vagina contracts it, it can cause inflammation of the uterus and fallopian tubes as well as pain, fever, and bleeding. Additionally, it may cause infertility in people with a uterus.

The symptoms of MG are painful urination and discharge from the penis and bleeding after sex for people with a vagina, but what makes this STI especially tricky is that the majority of cases don't have any symptoms at all. And in cases when there are symptoms, MG can be misdiagnosed as another STI, like chlamydia.

It can also exist alongside other STIs, so even if someone is being treated for one, it doesn't mean they don't have MG.

Because MG is a lesser-known STI, it's not always included in routine STI testing, so you may have to request it. Another option is myLAB Box, which offers an at-home MG test.

Like many STIs, using a condom can help prevent the spread of MG.

RELATED: You Can Still Get An STD Even If You're Not Sleeping Around

Why now?

The treatment for MG is typically antibiotics — although, like some strains of gonorrhea, sometimes it's antibiotic-resistant. According to the British Association, it is getting harder to get rid of MG using antibiotics; they're only effective in about 40 percent of the cases of the STI in the U.K.

"These new guidelines have been developed because we can't afford to continue with the approach we have followed for the past 15 years, as this will undoubtedly lead to a public health emergency with the emergence of MG as a superbug," Dr. Paddy Horner, one of the coauthors of the guidelines, told the BBC.

According to Horner, "resources are urgently needed to ensure that diagnostic and antimicrobial resistance testing is available for women with the condition who are at high risk of infertility."

Just in case you were looking for another reason to pack the condoms on your summer trip, you now have one.

RELATED: How I Finally Overcame My Crippling Fear Of STDs

Dr. Elizabeth Yuko is the Health & Sex Editor at SheKnows. She is a bioethicist and writer specializing in sexual and reproductive health and the intersection of bioethics and popular culture. Follow her on Instagram.

This article was originally published at SheKnows. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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