Another STD Spurs Concern
British study concludes Mycoplasma genitalium infection is transmitted through sexual contact
By Alan Mozes
FRIDAY, Feb. 12, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- There's yet another sexually transmitted infection that doctors and patients need to watch out for -- Mycoplasma genitalium.
New research from England adds to evidence that the bacteria Mycoplasma genitalium, or MG, is transmitted through sexual contact. Until now, researchers weren't sure how the often-symptomless infection, identified in the early 1980s, was spread.
But the current study of more than 4,500 British residents found MG prevalent in 1 percent of participants and linked to risky sexual behaviors, such as multiple sex partners and unsafe sexual practices in the prior year.
This finding suggests MG warrants more attention than it has received to date, said epidemiology professor Betsy Foxman, who specializes in infectious diseases at the University of Michigan.
"My impression is that MG is not on the radar of most general practitioners, [but] with a prevalence of 1 percent, this is an infection that physicians should learn more about," said Foxman, who wasn't involved in the new research.
The bacteria infects the mucus membranes of the urethra, cervix, throat or anus. Untreated, MG infection among men can lead to inflammation of the urethra (urethritis), the tube that carries urine and semen through the penis. In women it appears to raise the risk for infertility, preterm delivery or ectopic pregnancy (a potentially fatal pregnancy that occurs outside of the uterus), according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For the new study, researchers at University College London in England analyzed urine samples from thousands of "sexually experienced" British residents between 2010 and 2012. Participants were 16 to 44 years old.
The samples revealed similar rates of infection in males and females -- 1.2 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively.
No infections were seen among boys between 16 and 19. By contrast, 2.4 percent of girls 16 to 19 were infected, the highest of any female age group.
The infection rate among women steadily decreased after 19, while the highest rate of infection among men was from 25 to 34, an age group that might not be targeted in efforts to reduce STDs among young people, the study authors noted.