The growing prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases has concerned many men, as well it should – studies have shown that over 19 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases occur every year, and that today over 25% of Americans are living with an incurable STD. In addition to always practicing excellent penis care, men must also take care to protect themselves against the growing variety of STDs lurking among potential partners.
Though many STDs present with problems that might include penis pain or discharge, one of the most frightening points about STDs is that some are completely asymptomatic. This means that a person can have the infection in their body but not know it is there. That’s case with a new infection discovered by researchers in the UK: Known as mycoplasma genitalium, this infection might actually be more common than gonorrhea.
Is this really a new STD?
First discovered in 1980, mycoplasma genitalium was initially believed to be a bacteria that invaded the urinary tract and sometimes the reproductive system, much the same way a simple urinary tract infection might. But in the mid-90s, researchers discovered that those who tested positive for the bacteria also had sexual partners who tested positive. Over time, studies also proved that those who had more sexual partners or those who had unprotected sex were more likely to have mycoplasma genitalium.
Perhaps most significantly, the infection was never found in those who had never had sex. Therefore, research has now definitively concluded that yes, mycoplasma genitalium is a sexually transmitted disease.
What are the symptoms?
Like many other STDs, many people who contract this one might show no symptoms at all. For the men who do have symptoms, penis pain when urinating is the number one complaint, followed by discharge from the penis. For women, the symptoms usually present as bleeding after sexual activity, perhaps thanks to an inflamed cervix. The potential for long-term problems has not yet been established, thanks to the newness of the infection and ongoing research.
What about treatment?
Unfortunately, there are no FDA-approved tests for this particular infection; therefore, doctors usually treat the problem through a process of elimination. In most cases, the antibiotics used to treat penis pain or penis discharge do not work well in fighting mycoplasma genitalium. Therefore, physicians might suspect a man has this particular infection if the antibiotics obviously do not work to alleviate the symptoms. At that point, moving to higher-dose antibiotics or a different type of antibiotic altogether will often clear up the infection.
Taking steps to stay healthy
This worrying news is even more reason for a man to ‘wrap it up’ when enjoying time with a new partner, as well as to make a point of getting tested for a wide variety of STDs on a regular basis. Catching an infection very early can mean the difference between good health and a nasty problem later, and might also help preserve fertility.
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