Mycoplasma genitalium (MG) is a bacterium that can live in the urinary and genital tracts of humans and cause inflammation of the urinary tract in men and women, as well as inflammation of the cervix in women. It also appears to raise the risk for infertility in women, as well as - delivery. It was first reported in 1981, but scientists never knew it could be sexually transmitted.
A new study just released from researchers in the UK foundMycoplasma genitalium prevalent in one percent of the 4,500 participants. It also indicated that the disease was tied to sketchy sexual behavior, such as multiple sex partners, in the previous year.
MG has not really been on the radar of most doctors, and the researchers are hoping that their findings will change all that.
The UK study analyzed urine samples from thousands of "sexually experienced" British residents between 2010 and 2012, between the ages of 16 and 44 years old. The analysis showed similar rates of infection in both sexes.
The highest rate of infection among men was from ages 25 to 34, a point of interest because that age group might not normally be targeted in efforts to diminish instances of sexually transmitted diseases among young people.
Making matters complicated is the fact that few of the participants in the study exhibited any symptoms, however. Only five percent of infected men reported any of the symptoms usually associated with STDs, e.g., inflammation, discharge, penile irritation, pain or odor.
Still, even absent the normal STD symptoms in most cases, researchersuphold that the risk for MG infection was "strongly associated" with sexual activity.
Another problem brought to light by the study is that, although MG is currently included in the standard STD molecular analysis done when a doctor suspects a possible sexually transmitted disease, the absence of symptoms in the large majority of those infected by the disease will lead to many people not being properly diagnosed.
Prevention of MG entails use of the same caution when guarding against any sexually transmitted disease, except that condoms are limited in their effectiveness. With MG, even handling condoms after sex can expose users to the disease.
The antibiotic azithromycin is he treatment of choice for those diagnosed with MG. In cases where antibiotic resistance has forced clinicians to try alternatives, the experimental antibiotic moxifloxacin is favored.