Posted: December 23, 2015 in Uncategorized


According to recent study, a less-known Sexually Transmitted Disease seems to be getting a lot of media attention lately and this suggests that hundreds of thousands of people are infected with it. Mycoplasma Genitalium is the name of the STD.

According to Wikipedia, Mycoplasma genitalium also known as MG, is a small pathogenic bacterium that lives on the ciliated epithelial cells of the urinary and genital tracts in humans. Its existence was first reported in 1981, and was eventually identified as new species of Mycoplasma in 1983.

According to the new study which was published by The International Journal of Epidemiology which investigated the relationship between sexual activity and MG, around 4500 urine samples of people between 16 and 44 years old who reported ever having sex, and around 200 people who had never had sex were assessed. There were no cases of MG in people who had never had sex, and the infection was seen in about 1% of sexually active participants. It was more common in those who had had more partners, or reported having more unprotected sex.

That makes M. genitalium a more common sexually transmitted disease (STD) than gonorrhea, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [Hidden STD Epidemic: 110 Million Infections in the US]

How is it spread?

Although it seems extremely likely that MG is a sexually transmitted infection, there haven’t been that many epidemiological studies investigating it. This most recent study suggests it is spread through unprotected penetrative sex – the authors found no cases of MG in people who had only had oral sex, but this does not necessarily mean it’s not passed on in that way (there were very few people in their study who’d only had oral sex). They found weak evidence that it may be passed on via same-sex sexual practises, although there were small numbers of people in these demographics in this study, so the authors report that it’s hard to draw conclusions.

Who is most a risk?

The study found the highest rates of MG in young women (between 16 and 19 years old), and slightly older men (aged between 25 and 34), although this could have been chance variation. The authors also found that, for men, socio-economic status and Black ethnicity were also associated with increased risk. This could be due to differences in sexual behaviour, it could also represent ethnic differences in innate immunity.

How do I know I’ve got it?

At the moment, it seems like there’s not really an easy way to tell. The study found that over 90% of men with MG did not report any symptoms. Just under 45% of the 48 women in the study with MG reported bleeding after sex, which could be a symptom of an MG infection. As yet, there is very little known about the long-term effect of MG. Post-coital bleeding might be a sign of cervical friability or cervicitis. However, reports that MG might increase the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease might be premature, as MG infection was not associated with any other symptom of the disease.

What should I do if I think I have it?

If you have any symptoms of an STD, go and visit your GP or a sexual health clinic and get tested. Even if you don’t have symptoms, if you’re having unprotected sex or frequently changing sexual partners, it’s important to get regularly tested. That said, tests for MG are not currently included in the general tests that you receive, so it won’t be picked up unless it’s specifically investigated. The NHS website reports that this study might open a debate about whether it should be screened for, but that more information about the long-term effects of MG infection is needed to inform that debate.

What should I do to avoid it?

Do the same as you would to avoid any sexually transmitted infection or disease – use protection (condoms – contraceptive pills or coils will protect from pregnancy but not infection), and get tested regularly.

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