Mycoplasma genitalium: everything you need to know about the STI superbug

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Megan Murray
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Are you familiar with the sexually transmitted disease MGen, which experts have warned could become a superbug?

Even if you consider yourself clued up on the dangers of unprotected sex, there’s a good chance you aren’t familiar with the sexually transmitted infection that experts are warning could be the most prevalent of all.

Mycoplasma genitalium, also known as MGen, is an STI that has been spreading since the 1980s, but has mostly gone under the radar.

Its symptoms are either non-existent or imitate those of more well-known infections such as chlamydia, which makes it hard to recognise and diagnose. As it’s often mistaken for chlamydia and therefore treated as such, the disease has been targeted with the wrong antibiotics for years.

Now, The British Association of Sexual Health and HIV has warned that the disease is becoming resistant to treatment and could evolve into a superbug within the next five years. To try and stop this happening, the association has published more research on the disease and a set of guidelines to help more thorough diagnosis. 

CNN reports that Dr. Peter Greenhouse, the lead sexual health clinician at Weston General Hospital’s Weston Integrated Sexual Health Centre, says the disease is morphing in response to treatments, a bit like “a moving target.”

“MG is rapidly becoming the new ‘superbug’: It’s already increasingly resistant to most of the antibiotics we use to treat chlamydia and changes its pattern of resistance during treatment, so it’s like trying to hit a moving target,” Greenhouse says.

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What are the symptoms of MGen in women?

As previously mentioned, one of the biggest problems with MGen is that it is typically asymptomatic, making it very difficult to diagnose. Those who do experience symptoms however, might notice some of the following: 

- Pain while urinating

- Bleeding after sex

- Bleeding in-between periods

- Inflamed cervix

- Pain in the lower abdomen

What are the long-term effects of MGen?

The main outcomes of hosting MGen for a prolonged period of time is the development of an inflammation to the cervix or getting pelvic inflammatory disease. These conditions can lead to infertility, something which the association thinks could affect up to 4,800 women if the disease becomes immune to antibiotics.

How is MGen treated?

MGen does need to be treated with antibiotics, but it’s crucial that it’s the correct antibiotics and not one prescribed for other STIs.

How can MGen be prevented?

MGen is a sexually transmitted disease so the answer here really is as simple as safe sex. If you don’t know what your sexual partners current STI status is, it’s advised that you use a condom until you have both been tested. 

Images: Getty 


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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a senior digital writer for, who enjoys writing about homeware (particularly candles), travel, food trends, restaurants and all the wonderful things London has to offer.