Thousands could have newly discovered STD

New STD? What you should know about Mycoplasma genitalium
New STD? What you should know about Mycoplasma genitalium

There is a ‘new’ sexually transmitted infection (STI) and it may be more common than you know, even more prevalent than gonorrhoea.

Although it is not clear how many people in Kenya are infected by mycoplasma genitalium, a new study has shown that at least 110 million Americans and at least 1 percent of the population in the United Kingdom aged 16 – 44 is infected.


So, what is known about this silent epidemic, and how dangerous is it?

While most media have described the disease as “new”, the truth is it was discovered in 1980 but was linked to sexual activity in the 1990s.

According to the study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, the infection was more prevalent in people who either increased the number of sex partners or changed sex partners within a year.

The infection was also absent in people who had never had sex, adding to the evidence that it is indeed transmitted sexually.

Scientists, however, do not know the disease’s natural history or clinical sequelae.


The bacteria can cause inflammation of the urethra (called urethritis) in men, consequently leading to pain during urination and discharge from the penis.

It is not clear whether M. genitalium causes disease in women, but the infection has been linked to inflammation of the cervix (cervicitis), as well as pelvic inflammatory disease, an infection of the female reproductive organs that can lead to pain in the lower abdomen and pain or bleeding during sex, reports

In severe cases, pelvic inflammatory disease can lead to infertility in women.


Lisa Manhart, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington in Seattle, who was not involved in the new study, but has researched M. genitalium told Live Science that the antibiotics used to treat urethritis, cervicitis and pelvic inflammatory disease may not effective in treating M. genitalium, thus if a patient does not appear to be getting better after receiving the medication, doctors should test to M. genitalium and prescribe antibiotics that will work.

Treatment for M. genitalium is usually a five-day dose of antibiotics.

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Story By Lisa Kamau
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