'Stealth' STI Mycoplasma genitalium risks becoming a superbug

"The news comes after health officials last year warned that millions of young people are shunning protection because risky sex has become acceptable once again. /FILE

A new sexually transmitted disease, Mycoplasma genitalium, could make 3,000 women infertile every year and become the next super bug unless it is tackled, experts have warned.

Once it becomes resistant to antibiotics, MGen could leave up to 4,800 women infertile each year in the United Kingdom, according to the association.

Thousands of women risk infertility because Mycoplasma genitalium (MG) is developing resistance to antibiotics, according to sexual health specialists who are urging doctors to test before treatment. "Everyone can protect themselves from STIs by consistently and correctly using condoms with new and casual partners".

It was first identified in the United Kingdom in the 1980s and is thought to affect 1-2% of the general population.

Tests for MG have recently been developed but are not available in all clinics yet although doctors can send samples to Public Health England's laboratory to get a diagnostic result.

Eradication rates of MG following treatment with one family of antibiotics, called macrolides, are decreasing globally.

BASHH recommends that MG is treated with a seven-day course of the antibiotic, doxycycline, followed by a course of azithromycin. Macrolide resistance in the United Kingdom is estimated at about 40%, say the guidelines.

"It's yet another good reason to pack the condoms for the summer holidays - and actually use them".

"The greatest effect of this is for the women who present with pelvic inflammatory disease caused by MG, which would be very hard to treat, putting them at increased risk of infertility".

"The new BASHH guideline on MG is a positive step forward to improving testing and diagnosis", said Helen Fifer, a consultant microbiologist at Public Health England.

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