There’s a new STD to add to your list of Super Scary Sex Diseases—you know, because herpes, chlamydia, and gonorrhea aren’t enough to worry about.
It’s called mycoplasma genitalium (a.k.a., MG), and it’s on the rise in the U.K.. Oh, and P.S., sometimes it’s resistant to antibiotics.
Public Health England listed MG as an emerging STD to watch this summer in a new report, released in June. Now, the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV announced last week that they’re working on national guidelines for the management of MG.
Hold up, what exactly is mycoplasma genitalium?
So, MG isn’t exactly a brand-new STD. It was first discovered in the early 1980s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which reported on it in 2015.
In women, MG is typically asymptomatic (a.k.a, it doesn’t show symptoms), but can sometimes show up as pelvic pain and post-coital bleeding, and end up causing cervical infections and pelvic inflammatory disease, says infectious disease expert Amesh A.Adalja, M.D., senior scholar at the John’s Hopkins Center for Health Security. In men, it can cause a painful inflammation of the urethra which can leave them with a burning feeling when they pee, he adds.
Like pretty much every STD, MG is—you guessed it—transmitted through unprotected sex, says Adalja, typically through genital-to-genital contact, according to the BASHH; though it may also be passed through anal and oral sex.
It’s usually treatable with antibiotics but, again, some cases have been shown to be resistant to antibiotics. For the record, that doesn’t mean there are people walking around with untreatable MG—it just means that doctors may have to cycle through several different types of antibiotics before someone is cured, says Adalja.
Left untreated, however, MG can result in infertility or pre-term delivery, according to BASHH and the CDC.
The good news: Right now, this is not a huge threat in the U.S. About 1 percent of American young adults have MG, Adalja says, noting that chlamydia’s numbers are about four times higher than that.
Still, it’s important to at least be aware that this exists, especially since Adalja expects that the number of cases will go up over time. “Almost all STI infections have been on the upswing for several years,” he says. “This is no different.”
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