A Brief Guide to Mycoplasma Genitalium Disease

An STD that’s little known has attracted a higher level of attention lately, and new studies suggest that it may be more common than first thought. The study shoes that the bacterium Mycoplasma genitalium infects more than one percent of people 16-44 in the UK, and numbers are thought to be similar in the United States. M. genitalium is more common than gonorrhea, according to the CDC. Below are several things for patients to know about this sexually transmitted disease.

A New STD?

Some news sources have described the bacterium as causing a new type of STD, but it was first found in 1980. At that time, researchers lacked the proper testing methods to study M. genitalium, and the connection between the bacterium and sexual activity came a bit later. For instance, early studies found that those who tested positive for the bacterium typically had partners who had the disease as well. The most recent study adds to mounting evidence that M. genitalium is in fact an STD, because people are more likely to have it if they have unprotected intercourse.

Symptoms

In male patients, the bacterium may cause urethritis, or an inflammation of the urethra that may lead to penile discharge or burning during urination. It is less clear whether the bacterium causes problems in women, but it has been linked to cervical inflammation and PID (pelvic inflammatory disease), which may lead to infertility in severe cases. The new study showed that 94% of men and 56% of women with the STD showed no symptoms.

Testing

The FDA has not given approval to an M. genitalium test, and most doctors do not test for the bacterium. However, a physician may consider testing for those with persistent symptoms after treatment for other STDs. Additional research is necessary to gain a better understanding of how common the bacterium is among US residents, and whether routine testing should be performed.

Treatment

The antibiotics used to treat urethral, cervical and pelvic inflammation are typically ineffective against this bacterium, and doctors may suspect it if the patient does not get better after a course of antibiotics. From there, the physician may prescribe other antibiotics that work better against M. genitalium. The most common treatment is a five-day round of antibiotics. For more information on this and other STDs, visit the experts at Harcourt Health.