Health experts in the UK are alerting that rates of the sexually transmitted infection, mycoplasma genitalium, may probably double in the next decade, but there’s no need for the U.S. to panic. Tests that are becoming more accurate could only be the reason why there is an increase in rates. Mycoplasma genitalium is known to cause female infertility and it’s becoming resistant to antibiotics. This STI is often mistaken for chlamydia. Experts say that many patients are asymptomatic, which means they can spread the STI to their partners without knowing it.
New STI Causes Female Infertility, But There’s No Need to Panic
Health experts in the UK are alerting that rates of the sexually transmitted infection, mycoplasma genitalium, may probably double in the next decade.
However, there’s no need for the U.S. to panic, according to Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, a professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).
Mycoplasma genitalium causes female infertility if left untreated. It’s also becoming resistant to antibiotics.
This STI is often mistaken for chlamydia and has been considered a low profile STI.
Although the exact occurrence of the infection in the U.S. is unknown, some estimates rank it as somewhat more common than gonorrhea in women.
For men with urethritis, prevalence is estimated at 30 to 40%.
Experts say that many patients are asymptomatic, which means they can spread the STI to their partners without knowing it.
In the UK, the rate of infection is approximately 1 in every 100 women. Public health officials have notified that the infection could grow into a superbug.
But Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee, stated that he would be careful to make such a claim for the United States.
“I’m not ready to endorse those predictions, but that’s always a concern at the back of our minds,” he said.
According to Dr. Edward Hook III, an endowed professor of medicine, microbiology, and epidemiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, tests that are becoming more accurate could only be the reason why there is an increase in rates.
“Mycoplasma genitalium is an infection that nobody was looking for 10 or 15 years ago. We now have highly sensitive tests which appear to do a good job of detecting it. The fact that you’re detecting it doesn’t mean it wasn’t there before, it could mean you weren’t looking for it. That’s part of the controversy,” he told Healthline.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classified mycoplasma genitalium as an “emerging issue” in sexually transmitted diseases in 2015.
Mycoplasma genitalium was said to be responsible for 15 to 20% of nongonococcal urethritis and about 30% of recurrent or persistent urethritis.
Klausner stated that there is still no nationwide set of guidelines for the prevention and treatment of mycoplasma genitalium.
There is also no test completely approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that is accessible in the U.S. However, this doesn’t mean that people can’t be tested.
“Many private labs have taken steps to generate their own test… so patients can be tested for mycoplasma genitalium. The tests will not be FDA approved, but if they’re being offered by a commercial laboratory they should have been standardized and regulated by the major certifying body, the College of American Pathologists. And they have a pretty rigorous way of looking at these tests,” said Dr. Hook.
The FDA has recently listed a new test for sale for mycoplasma genitalium and is now under clinical trials. According to Klausner, nonspecialists will find it much easier to diagnose and treat the infection using the kit.
“It’s a very rapid, accurate test that will not only detect if MG is present or not, but will also predict, based on the DNA of the organism, what the best antibiotic to use is,” he stated.
Hook notes that it’s important to be aware of the infection. Patients should also undertake testing as part of a broader sexual health routine.
“I would take those patients, and first of all, I would suggest they not just focus on one organism or another, but instead that they focus on their own sexual health,” he stated.
“If they choose to have more than one sexual partner, it’s probably best to practice safe sex, which means using barrier protection, condoms, and having regular checkups. Those checkups should include testing for possible STIs.”