17/04/2023
What is Mycoplasma genitalium and how does it differ from other sexually transmitted infections?
Mycoplasma genitalium (MG) is a type of bacteria that can cause sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Although it was first discovered in the 1980s, only in recent years has it gained attention as a significant STI. This is largely due to the increased use of sensitive diagnostic tests, which have enabled researchers to study its prevalence and impact on sexual and reproductive health.

Unlike many other STIs, Mycoplasma genitalium is difficult to detect with traditional testing methods. This is because it lacks a cell wall, which makes it resistant to many antibiotics and also makes it difficult to culture in the lab. As a result, it is often underdiagnosed and undertreated.

Transmission

Mycoplasma genitalium is primarily transmitted through sexual contact, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex. It can also be transmitted from mother to baby during childbirth, although this is rare. The bacteria can live in the urethra, cervix, anus, and throat, and can be passed between sexual partners even if there are no visible symptoms.

Symptoms

Many people who are infected with Mycoplasma genitalium may not experience any symptoms at all. However, some individuals may experience symptoms such as:

  • Pain or discomfort during urination
  • Pain during sex
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Abnormal bleeding between periods or after sex
  • Rectal pain or discharge (in cases of anal infection)
These symptoms can be similar to those of other STIs, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, which can make it difficult to diagnose Mycoplasma genitalium without specific testing.

Diagnosis

Diagnosing Mycoplasma genitalium can be challenging, as it requires specialized testing. Currently, there are no widely available rapid diagnostic tests for Mycoplasma genitalium, so diagnosis usually requires a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test on a urine or swab sample. This test can detect the presence of the bacteria's DNA in the sample, even if there are no visible symptoms.

Treatment

Mycoplasma genitalium is treated with antibiotics, but it is important to use the right antibiotic to ensure that the infection is fully cleared. Some strains of Mycoplasma genitalium have become resistant to certain antibiotics, which can make treatment more challenging.
In general, azithromycin and doxycycline are the first-line antibiotics used to treat Mycoplasma genitalium. However, if the infection is not responding to these antibiotics, other options may need to be considered. It is important to finish the full course of antibiotics, even if symptoms improve, to ensure that the infection is fully eradicated.

Conclusion

Mycoplasma genitalium is a relatively new STI that is still not widely recognized or understood. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that it can have significant impacts on sexual and reproductive health, particularly if left untreated. As with other STIs, the best way to prevent Mycoplasma genitalium is through safe sex practices, including the use of condoms and regular STI testing. If you have any concerns about your sexual health, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider to get the appropriate testing and treatment.

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