Most people can rattle a list of STDs off when asked, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, herpes, genital warts and even hepatitis C. However, the majority of people you asked about Mycoplasma genitalium would be unable to tell you what it is, what symptoms it causes, how it’s transmitted or even why it’s a concern to sexually active people.

Unfortunately, it has severe enough consequences that the population’s general lack of knowledge regarding this disease is a major problem. Today, we’d like to do our part to fix that. Read on to learn more about this disease and what you can do to help keep it at bay.

What Is Mycoplasma Genitalium?

Mycoplasma genitalium is a bacteria found in the genital area, as the name suggests. It is a relatively new addition to the list of STDs, even though it was first discovered back in the 1980s. Why was it classed as a sexually transmitted disease (STD)? Because, explains Live Science, “early studies found that people who tested positive for M. genitalium often had sexual partners who were infected with the disease as well.”

Also, “the infection was more common in people who had at least four new sexual partners in the past year than in people who had one or fewer new partners in the past year. In addition, people were more likely to have M. genitalium if they had unprotected sex, and no infections were found in people who had never had sex.” (1)

This parasitic bacteria needs a host to live, so it infects people and takes up residence in the warm, moist areas that foster its growth most effectively. As with other STDs, that means in the genital area, where growth and transmission are both made easier by the general environment.

How Common Is It?

Good numbers are relatively hard to come by, because Mycoplasma genitalium is a new disease. However, research indicates that the disease “infects more than 1 percent of people ages 16 to 44 in the United Kingdom. That comes out to about 250,000 people, according to U.K. census data. Studies in the United States have found that a similar percentage of people here are infected with M. genitalium.” (2)

Its presence in the United States is not thought to be minimal, say scientists: “MG is more common than gonorrhea but less common than chlamydia. It’s estimated that about 2% to 4% of the U.S. population has MG, says Manhart, compared to about 0.5% for gonorrhea and about 4% for chlamydia.” (3)

The prevalence of this bacteria is even more alarming considering its potential consequences. It “has become recognized as a cause of male urethritis,” say the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “responsible for approximately 15%–20% of nongonococcal urethritis (NGU) cases, 20%–25% of nonchlamydial NGU, and approximately 30% of persistent or recurrent urethritis.” (4)

How Is Mycoplasma Genitalium Transmitted?

So far, scientists know that M. genitalium can be transmitted through vaginal intercourse or through rubbing and touching with the hands. Unlike many other STDs, there is little evidence that it passes through anal or oral sex, and it does not infect the eyes, mouth or throat as some STDs do. It infects the inside of the urethra in pen, and the cervix in women, as well as possibly the uterus and fallopian tubes in women. (5)

Signs and Symptoms of Mycoplasma Genitalium

Unfortunately, MG has few signs. “By and large, most cases of MG are asymptomatic,” says Verywell Health. “If symptoms do appear, they are largely nonspecific and easily mistaken for other STIs such as chlamydia and gonorrhea. Mycoplasma genitalium symptoms also differ significantly in women and men.” (6)

When symptoms are present, they include:

  • Women: Vaginal itching, burning while peeing, pain during intercourse, unusual bleeding, strange odors and discharge
  • Men: Discharge from the tip of the penis, burning while peeing, swelling and pain in joints.

Urethritis is the biggest concern from MG. This is an infection of the urethra that has been known to cause infertility and even sterility. In women, it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can lead to pain and trouble conceiving. In men, it is likely responsible for a huge percentage of urethritis cases, which can in turn lead to trouble conceiving.

Treating Mycoplasma Genitalium

Unfortunately, treating this bacteria isn’t as easy as we might hope. In fact, “British doctors are warning about a sexually transmitted infection that could become the next hard-to-treat superbug, thanks to its increasing resistance to traditional antibiotics,” says Meridian Healthcare Group. (7)

Currently, there is a significant debate about the best way to treat: “Available data suggest that azithromycin is superior to doxycycline in treating M. genitalium infection. However, azithromycin-resistant infections have been reported in 3 continents, and the proportion of azithromycin-resistant M. genitalium infection is unknown. Moxifloxacin is the only drug that currently seems to uniformly eradicate M. genitalium.” (8)

These concerns are from almost a decade ago already, and antibiotic resistance only grows more extremely. Clearly, the best course of infection is to avoid getting and passing along the disease in the first place.

Why Should You Get Tested?

Getting tested is far and away the best strategy to preventing the spread of this disease. Not only should you get tested, you should require that your partners do as well before you sleep with them. Remember, unprotected sex with unknown partners is the most effective way of transmitting the disease, so you should avoid this wherever possible.

If you are concerned about your sexual health, or if you’re ready to have a new partner, or if it has been a year since your last test, it’s time to fix that. iDNA can help you with safe, private and accurate home tests that enable you to test regularly for the presence of STDs. They’re simple to use, too. All you have to do is:

  1. Order the test through the mail today.
  2. Follow the instructions to collect a sample in your own home.
  3. Send the sample back through the mail.
  4. Register for the online account through which you can ask questions and you will receive your results.
  5. Retest as often as necessary to ensure the best possible sexual health, year round.

If you have questions or want to take charge of your sexual health, order one today. In the meantime, we’re always here to help you maintain good sexual wellbeing with blog posts, resources and products that place your health and the health of the population first.

References

(1) New STD? What You Should Know About Mycoplasma Genitalium. (2015). Retrieved from https://www.livescience.com/52826-mycoplasma-genitalium-std.html

(2) New STD? What You Should Know About Mycoplasma Genitalium. (2015). Retrieved from https://www.livescience.com/52826-mycoplasma-genitalium-std.html

(3) What Is Mycoplasma Genitalium? British Doctors Are Warning That This Sexually Transmitted Infection Could Be the Next Big Superbug. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.health.com/sexual-health/mycoplasma-genitalium

(4) Emerging Issues. (2015). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/std/tg2015/emerging.htm#myco

(5) Mycoplasm Genitalium. (ND). Retrieved from https://stipu.nsw.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/Mycoplasma-Genitalium.pdf

(6) Common Diagnosis and Treatment of Mycoplasma Genitalium. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-are-the-symptoms-of-mycoplasma-genitalium-3133216

(7) What Is Mycoplasma Genitalium? British Doctors Are Warning That This Sexually Transmitted Infection Could Be the Next Big Superbug. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.health.com/sexual-health/mycoplasma-genitalium

(8) Mycoplasma Genitalium: Should We Treat and How? (2011). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3213402/