Women have been warned about the spread of an increasingly dangerous 'stealth' sexually transmitted infection that makes women infertile. One in every 100 British adults aged 18 to 44 are already thought to be infected with the Mycoplasma genitalium bug - known as MG.
But specialists warn this is set to double within ten years as the infection rapidly becomes untreatable.
The British Association of Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) believes 3,000 women a year could lose the ability to have children if the STI becomes untreatable. The British Association of Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) has published the first official guidelines on management of MG on Wednesday.
Paddy Horner, of BASHH, said last night: 'MG has the potential to become a superbug within a decade, resistant to standard antibiotics.
'The greatest consequence 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 infection was discovered in 1981 but very few people - even doctors - knew about it until recently.
That is because it is commonly misdiagnosed as Chlamydia, another STI.
This common mistake has meant the bug has been quietly getting stronger and more prevalent - and because it has been treated with the wrong drugs is now very resistant to any antibiotic. Because antibiotic-resistance is higher in many other countries, doctors say holiday romances could drive the spread.
Most people who carry the MG infection have no symptoms - but are still able to pass it on to others. Bad cases can cause painful inflammation for men, but can be more serious for women - potentially causing womb scarring that leave them infertile.
New guidelines from the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV say doctors should use tests that specifically look for the MG infection for anyone with certain symptoms, including bleeding, discharge and genital inflammation.
Gynaecologist Peter Greenhouse said: 'It's yet another good reason to pack condoms for the summer holidays.
'You can't shut down easyJet, the internet, Tinder and Grindr, all of which make it easier to find new partners. So people need to take precautions.'
The news comes after health officials last year warned that millions of young people are shunning protection becomes risky sex has become acceptable once again, three decades after the Aids epidemic made condom use essential. Nearly half of 16 to 24-year-olds admit they have had sex with a new partner without using a condom, a Public Health England report said in December. The rate of sexually transmitted infections fell in the 1980s and early 1990s in response to fears over HIV.
But this trend was reversed following declining concern about HIV, with the emergence of effective new antiviral treatments reducing the consequences of an HIV diagnosis from a death sentence to a treatable condition.
NEWLY IDENTIFIED AS AN STI
Scientists identified MG as an STI following a landmark study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology in November 2015.
The infection was first identified in the 1980s – but researchers at the time were unsure how it was transmitted. The findings from 2015 were derived from answers of 4,500 people from Britain's third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles.
The study revealed that teenagers who had not had vaginal, anal or oral sex had no signs of the infection – leading to it being classed as an STI. It also revealed that up to 90 per cent of cases in men, and 66 per cent in women, are in people aged between 25 and 44.
The researchers, led by Dr Pam Sonnenberg, warned they are less likely to be diagnosed because measures to curb STIs are mainly aimed at young people.
The authors found that black men and those living in the most deprived areas were more likely to test positive for MG. Worryingly, the majority of participants who tested positive for MG did not report any STI symptoms in the last month.
Over half of women did not report any symptoms, but among those who did, bleeding after sex was most common.
MG, or mycoplasma genitalium, is a sexually transmitted infection.
In men, MG causes urethritis (infection of the urethra, the urinary canal leading from the bladder to exit at the tip of the penis).
Symptoms may include watery discharge from the penis, and a burning sensation in the penis when urinating.
In women, MG causes infection of the cervix (opening of the uterus at the top of the vagina).
Symptoms are usually absent but may include: abnormal discharge from the vagina, discomfort on urination, and bleeding between periods, often after sex.
If untreated, MG can cause pelvic inflammatory disease in women.
Symptoms can appear up to 35 days after infection.
Source: SA Health
By Ben Spenser | DailyMail
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