This Common STI Could Soon Become A Drug-Resistant Superbug

The infection can lead to infertility in women

A photo of a woman holding her crotch area
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The infection can lead to infertility in women

There’s a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that you probably never heard of that could be on its way to becoming a superbug. It’s called Mycoplasma genitalium (MG), and doctors in Australia have discovered that more and more cases of the infection are developing antibiotic resistance.

“It’s essentially acting like a superbug, with research showing at least 50 percent of [infected] people have a drug-resistant MG, limiting their treatment options,” Dr. Suzanne Garland of The Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne said to The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

She added that 10 to 35 percent of people who are tested for Mycoplasma genitalium test positive for it.

According to Web MD, symptoms of the infection include penile or vaginal discharge, burning during urination, painful sexual intercourse, bleeding after sex, and pelvic pain among others. It can lead to further complications like urethritis or inflammation of the urethra in men. Women can develop pelvic inflammatory disease as a result of an MG infection, which can then lead to infertility. It has also been linked to cervicitis which is an inflammation of the cervix.

According to the ABC, there’s a new test that will make it easier to diagnose cases of MG, and it’s set to be implemented in clinics across Australia. In the United States, however, the Food and Drug Administration hasn’t green-lit a test for the bacteria, but the CDC says that there’s a test available to laboratories for research purposes.

More than one percent of people aged 16 to 44 in the United States are infected with MG, LiveScience reports, which makes it more widespread than gonorrhea. But even though it isn’t well known, MG isn’t a new infection. According to LiveScience, it was first discovered in 1980. A 2015 study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology showed that people infected with MG had at least four new sexual partners in the past year compared to people who had fewer than four new partners. The study also found that you are more likely to contract the infection if you have unprotected sex.

As we mentioned earlier, antibiotics are used to treat MG. But patients with antibiotic-resistant MG have found that the typical schedule of antibiotic treatments isn’t effective. One MG positive patient told the ABC that when he was diagnosed, he was given one antibiotic for one week to debilitate it and then a stronger one to get rid of the infection.