Mycoplasma genitalium

Mycoplasma genitalium is an often asymptomatic, bacterial, sexually transmitted disease (STD) which bears some similarities to gonorrhoea and chlamydia. Because mycoplasma genitalium often occurs in association with other infections in both men and women, doctors still find it quite difficult to diagnose the condition on its own. There is evidence to suggest that in the United States, mycoplasma genitalium has become the third most common STD diagnosed in young people.

Women

Mycoplasma genitalium in women has been linked to conditions such as bacterial vaginosis (in which unusual bacteria occur inside the vagina, changing its natural pH balance and causing unpleasant discharge and odour); cervicitis (in which the lower genital tract becomes infected and causes inflammation of the cervix); pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and endometritis (infection of the endometrial lining). Mycoplasma genitalium has also been found in women who have given birth prematurely.

Symptoms In Women

In most cases of mycoplasma genitalium, the sufferer shows no symptoms. If she does show signs of being infected, these symptoms are likely to be:

Vaginal itching

A burning or otherwise painful sensation when urinating

Pain during sex

Long-Term Affects In Women

Doctors think the long-term consequences of a mycoplasma genitalium infection may similar to those of more well-known STDs such as gonorrhoea and chlamydia. This is because the early symptoms of mycoplasma genitalium (when there are symptoms) are similar the early signs of these conditions. In women, gonorrhoea and chlamydia (if left untreated) can lead to infertility, ectopic pregnancy and lasting pelvic pain.

Men

Often, mycoplasma genitalium is diagnosed in men who suffer from urethritis (inflammation of the urethra) which is not caused by gonorrhoea or chlamydia. Symptoms in men (if symptoms are present) may include:

Urethral discharge

A burning or otherwise painful sensation when urinating

Arthritis (pain and swelling in the joints)

Screening

At the moment, the jury is still out on whether or not screening for mycoplasma genitalium on its own is a worthwhile proposal, precisely because the disease usually does not produce symptoms in sufferers. Researchers in the United States and the UK are, however, working on a viable screening method (urine testing is one suggestion) and investigating the link between mycoplasma genitalium and pelvic inflammatory disease. If you do have any of the symptoms listed above or you know you have engaged in risky sexual practices in the past, don't hesitate to ask your doctor about the possibility of your having contracted mycoplasma genitalium, or other STDS. Your doctor should test you for mycoplasma genitalium by testing your urine and taking swabs from your vagina or penis.

Treatment

When diagnosed, mycoplasma genitalium is treated with antibiotics. Patients who are diagnosed with the condition are advised to contact all previous partners with whom they have had unprotected sex and inform them of the diagnosis and the need to go for testing themselves.

Prevention

As with many other STDs, there is strong evidence to show that consistent and correct use of condoms in all sexual encounters offers a great deal a protection against becoming infected with mycoplasma genitalium. One study has found that a consistent condom user has half the risk of infection as someone who never uses condoms.

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