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SEXUAL HEALTH

Mycoplasma Genitalium: The Common STI You've Never Heard Of

by NICOLA SMITH
Published: SEPTEMBER 10, 2018
Whether you've heard of it or not, mycoplasma genitalium is an emerging STI that you should be aware of.

Left untreated, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can cause serious health problems. That's why being diligent about your sexual health and practicing safer sex are essential for maintaining your overall health. There are some STIs that are more common than others. and, while you may not have heard of it, mycoplasma genitalium is an STI that is commonly diagnosed around the world. In this article, we're taking a look at what mycoplasma genitalium is and how to protect yourself from this STI.

What Is Mycoplasma Genitalium?

Mycoplasma genitalium is an STI that can cause inflammation of the urinary and genital tracts. This can occur in both sexes. Mycoplasma genitalium can be transmitted through unprotected anal or vaginal intercourse. The inflammation caused by this STI can make the genitals more susceptible to other STIs. Mycoplasma genitalium causes urethritis in people with penises and cervicitis in people with vaginas. This STI is also associated with pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) which can cause preterm delivery, abortion and tubal infertility.

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An "Emerging Issue" in the US

The rates of mycoplasma genitalium are relatively low in developed countries at 1% to 3%. Rates of this STI, however, are typically higher in people who are currently seeking treatment for other STIs. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mycoplasma genitalium was considered an "emerging issue" in 2015. More recent studies have sounded the alarm about this relatively common - but often asymptomatic - infection.

Because some patients with mycoplasma genitalium are asymptomatic, they can spread this STI to their partners without knowing it. In the United Kingdom, the disease has an estimated rate of infection of 1 in every 100 women. The rate of infection is much lower in the United States. While the rates of infection are relatively high in the UK, it doesn't mean the disease wasn't necessarily present before. It could just mean health professionals haven't been looking for it in STI tests until recent years.

Are There Screening & Prevention Guidelines?

There are currently no formal guidelines for the screening and prevention of mycoplasma genitalium. Mycoplasma genitalium is only detectable through nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT), which starts with a urine test or vaginal swab.

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What Are the Symptoms of Mycoplasma Genitalium?

The symptoms of mycoplasma genitalium in people with penises include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Feeling the need to urinate often
  • Painful intercourse and/or ejaculation
  • Discharge from the penis.

The symptoms of mycoplasma genitalium in people with vaginas include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Vaginal pain
  • Frequent urination
  • Feeling the need to urinate often
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Burning when urinating
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Abnormal bleeding from the vagina (after intercourse, after menopause or between periods).

What Happens If Someone Isn't Treated?

If left untreated, mycoplasma genitalium can cause infertility. The symptoms above can also be present with other STIs. For that reason, it's important to have regular sexual health check-ups from a broader sexual health perspective rather than focusing on one specific STI. Practicing safer sex can protect you from STIs - including mycosplasma genitalium. In this case, barrier methods such as condoms are best.

How Is Mycoplasma Genitalium Treated?

Treatment options for mycoplasma genitalium depend on where you live and the severity of the infection. In clinical trials, the antibiotics azithromycin and doxycycline prove effective in treating people with this infection. If you are concerned about any of the symptoms above, seek the advice of a medical professional and undergo an STI test.

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Nicola Smith

With a keen interest in holistic health and wellness, Nicola Smith works with clients in the health and wellness industry providing copy that engages audiences and helps businesses grow. Her goal is to help people have a holistic approach to their health, and inspire others to simplify their lives, pack a suitcase and book a ticket to somewhere they've always wanted to visit or live. You can also follow her adventures on Instagram @luggagelifestyle.

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