An STD You Probably Haven't Heard Of

by Dr Jonathan D'Souza

Although doctors have known about mycoplasma genitalium (MG) since 1981, researchers have recently discovered strong evidence that it may be transmitted through sexual contact. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, M. genitalium could be a more common sexually transmitted disease (STD) than gonorrhea.

The study that featured in the International Journal of Epidemiology on the 3rd of Nov 2015 analyzed urine samples of 4,507 people between the ages of 16 and 44. One percent of the total people analyzed had at least one sexual partner with MG. The study found that people were more likely to have M. genitalium if they had unprotected sex. No infections were found in people who had never had sex.

The study authors say, “There were strong associations with risky sexual behaviors, with behavioral risk factors similar to those in other known STIs, and no infections were detected in those reporting no previous sexual experience."

What Are The Symptoms Of MG?
In men, the bacteria can cause inflammation of the urethra (called urethritis) that leads to symptoms such as a burning pain while urinating or discharge from the penis.

This bacteria can cause inflammation of the urethra causing symptoms of burning, pain while urinating or discharge from the penis. The bacteria can cause inflammation of the cervix and pelvic inflammatory disease, an infection of the female reproductive organs that can cause pain in the lower abdomen and bleeding or pain during sex.

A recent review found that the risk of inflammation of the cervix, pelvic inflammatory disease and preterm birth was about twice as high in women with M. genitalium infection compared to women without the infection.

Can I Get Tested For It?
The US FDA has not approved a test for M. genitalium. Doctors could consider testing for M. genitalium in patients who have persistent symptoms even after treatment for other STDs that can cause similar symptoms.

How To Reduce Your Risk
1. Be Partner-Wise
Knowing your partner’s sexual history is important. Have an honest and open conversation with your partner to know their sexual history. While it might be too much to ask for, it’s better to be safe than sorry. The more the number of partners you have, the greater are your chances of contracting an STD. It is better to be in a mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner.

2. Use A Latex Condom
Using a latex condom every time you have sex decreases the chances of infections, says the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. While synthetic non-latex condoms have higher breakage rates, condoms that are lubricated with spermicides are not safe and may add to your risk.

3. Avoid Risky Sexual Practices
Do not indulge in risky sexual acts that involve tearing or breaking of skin, as they carry a higher risk of STDs.

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