Take heed, folks: There appears to be a newish STD in town. It's "newish" because doctors have known about mycoplasma genitalium, or MG, since 1981, but researchers have now found the strongest evidence to date that it can be transmitted through sexual contact. They analyzed urine samples from 4,507 Brits aged 16 to 44 and found that 1% of those who had at least one sexual partner had MG, reports the Independent. The figure rose to 5.2% of men and 3.1% of women who had more than four sexual partners in the previous year, per Mic. Tellingly, no sign of the infection was found in the 200 or so participants who had never had sex. "There were strong associations with risky sexual behaviors, with behavioral risk factors similar to those in other known STIs, and no infections were detected in those reporting no previous sexual experience," the authors say.
While sufferers may report genital discharge, pelvic pain, pain while urinating, and bleeding after sex in the case of women, "over 90% of men and more than half of women with MG had no symptoms," a researcher tells the Guardian. The lead author notes the infection could also lead to inflammations of the urethra or cervix (urethritis or cervicitis), pelvic inflammatory disease, and female infertility, but further research is needed to understand the long-term effects. A sex researcher adds there's no need to freak out. MG "is prevented in the same ways that gonorrhea and chlamydia are: by using condoms properly and consistently," she says. Doctors, she adds, should keep the results in mind when patients have ailments such as urethritis or cervicitis but test negative for gonorrhea or chlamydia. (This condom changes color near STDs.)