What are STDs?
Sexually Transmitted Diseases are fairly common and can easily be confused to be a single condition. However, there are many sub-categories under Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Numerous bacterial, fungal and viral infections can affect the sexual organs but result in highly similar symptoms. This is why confusion and mistakes occur while treating the patient based on their symptoms alone.
Clinical diagnosis of a Sexually Transmitted Disease is quite simple. Most Sexually Transmitted Diseases result in painful urination described often as a burning sensation. This is due to inflammation in the urinary tracts known as urethritis. Often, pain is accompanied by bleeding and abnormal discharge.
A New Superbug
An old but not widely known bacterium, Mycoplasma Genitalium is turning heads as it threatens to become a superbug. Due to its highly similar symptoms with chlamydia, it is often mistakenly diagnosed as chlamydia and treated as such.
Although the antibiotics against Chlamydia are effective against many microorganisms, they are not suitable to fight off Mycoplasma Genitalium. In fact, improper use of such antibiotics can result in increased resistance to antibiotics in Mycoplasma species.
Discovered in the 1980s, this bacterium is still not well known among many medical professionals due to its rare nature. Unless examined by an infectious-disease specialist, this infection is widely misdiagnosed.
The consequences of misdiagnosis
Misdiagnosis has resulted in the development of antibiotic-resistant Mycoplasma and at this rate soon most antibiotics will be ineffective against it. If left undiagnosed, improperly treated or not treated at all, the infection can progress upwards toward the cervix and result in Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). PID is a painful gynecological condition, which can result in severe pain and if unmanaged can cause infertility in women.
Despite having simple tests available for diagnosing Mycoplasma infection, they are still not FDA approved and thus not widely used. Due to this, BASHH has released specific guidelines that suggest Mycoplasma testing be done in all suspicious patients with symptoms.
Dr. Mark Lawton, a consultant in sexual health and HIV and the clinical lead at the Liverpool Center for Sexual Health, stated, “We are already seeing resistance to Mycoplasma Genitalium because we are using antibiotics that treat chlamydia very well but [don’t] treat Mycoplasma very well.”
How can this issue be resolved?
Lack of proper testing makes doctors treat the patients blindly with inappropriate and ineffective drugs. In order to solve this issue, further research is required to develop cost-effective and simple tests for Mycoplasma Genitalium. When commercial tests for Mycoplasma becomes easily available, doctors will be better able to diagnose and thus efficiently treat the disease by targeting the underlying pathogen.