Researchers from Johns Hopkins University are working to raise awareness about a sexually transmitted disease that doesn’t get a lot of attention but has a severe consequence of not being treated.
disease, mycoplasma genitalium or Mgen, has no symptoms and most
people don’t have a clue that they have the disease. There’s no
test for it, which makes it hard for doctors to keep track of and
diagnose. However, doctors believe the disease is even more common
than gonorrhea and affects up to three percent population.
disease is thought to render people infertile.
scientists discovered the bacterial infection in the 1980s, it wasn’t
until 2015 that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
acknowledged that it was an STD. There is growing concern that the
infection will continue to spread, especially since it shows no
symptoms and many strains are antibiotic-resistant.
treatment options are limited.
researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
are leading a trial to find a test that can detect the bacteria that
Johns Hopkins Medicine Professor of Public Health and Pediatrics Dr. Maria Trent became involved with the work due to her interest in fertility preservation in high-risk youth. She started to consider the disease’s connection to PID (pelvic inflammatory disease) and how rampant the disease is.
said the research shows that doctors must find a way to include
regular Mgen testing into yearly routines.
an Australian-based company, has developed a test that could help
identify the Mgen-causing bacteria. Trent is currently investigating
that test, which is already in use in Australia, Europe, New Zealand
and the UK. If Trent’s research determines the test is effective,
she can attain FDA approval to use it in the U.S.
test also looks for biomarkers connected to antibiotic resistance,
which would let doctors know if a patient needs something more than
the commonly prescribed azithromycin.
to Colin Dever, SpeedX CEO, diagnostic testing wasn’t always
available until genetic testing came along. He said now there is a
way to determine if another line of treatment is necessary.
trials are being carried out in two locations – Albuquerque, N.M.’s
TriCore Reference Laboratories and the University of Alabama in
is based in Massachusetts and is looking for FDA approval for another
who develop Mgen symptoms may think they have another STD such as
gonorrhea or chlamydia. Women could experience vaginal discharge,
pelvic pain, pain while having sex and even bleeding after sex. Men
may experience painful urination and have a watery discharge.
Due to the lack of knowledge by doctors on Mgen, patients are not diagnosed correctly and are given antibiotics for other kinds of STDs. According to research, Mgen has been tied to infertility, but additional studies need to be done to ensure this conclusively.
studies show that Mgen can cause urethritis, which is inflammation in
the urethra. The CDC has not confirmed if this is the reason men
experience male infertility. Even less information for females is
available, but what is known is that the bacteria can be found in the
uterus lining or cervix, which can lead to pelvic inflammatory
CDC said PID still needs to be studied further.
number of researchers feel women who have more than one or two cases
of PID were not treated for the right STD. Many studies show
infertile women had scarring of their fallopian tubes with antibodies
connected to Mgen.
further research is needed to make sure this is why infertility is
happening for men and women.
Mgen is believed to affect a minute number of people, it’s the
high-risk population that is most at risk for catching it. Since Mgen
has no outward symptoms and no standard test for it is available,
people may not know that their reproductive system is being damaged.
It’s the Mgen inflammation that does the damage to the reproductive
Thanks to the CDC’s decision to make Mgen an STD disease, more attention should be paid to it. Researchers say more information about Mgen could be found if there was a routine test for it. After all, doctors can’t treat mycoplasma if they can’t test for it.