What Are The Symptoms of Mycoplasma Genitalium?

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Question: What Are The Symptoms of Mycoplasma Genitalium?

Answer: Mycoplasma often has no symptoms. When present, Mycolasma genitalium symptoms vary a lot.

Mycoplasma genitalium, otherwise known as MG, has only recently started to be recognized as a problem.  It's a relatively common organism. Still, until recently it has usually been associated with other diagnoses rather than tested for on its own.

It was thought of as a bacteria that hitched a ride on the disease process, rather than causing disease on its own.

These days, that's no longer true. MG is seen as a significant cause of STDs, and scientists are beginning to give it the attention it deserves as a sexually transmitted disease pathogen. It's now clear that mycoplasma genitalium causes many cases of the diseases it was previously thought to be only somewhat associated with. For example, it is a major cause of both bacterial vaginosis (BV) and non-gonoccocal urethritis (NGU). 

Symptoms of mycoplasma are different in women and in men. Many people have no symptoms at all, but those who do are likely to have one or more of the symptoms below: 

Mycoplasma Genitalium Symptoms in Women:

  • most cases have no symptoms
  • vaginal itching
  • burning on urination
  • pain during intercourse
  • Mycoplasma genitalium infection is also associated with bacterial vaginosis and its symptoms. These include a fishy odor after sex and changes in vaginal discharge. 

    Symptoms of Mycoplasma Genitalium in Men:

    • urethral discharge
    • burning on urination
    • pain and swelling of the joints (arthritis)
    • many cases have no symptoms
    • Mycoplasma is the most common cause of non-chlamydial non-gonoccocal urethritis in men.

    Mycoplasma genitalium symptoms are similar to those of other bacterial STDs.

    These non-specific symptoms are easily mistaken for those of chlamydia and gonorrhea. That is why testing is so important. Wherever possible, testing should be done before treatment can begin. Knowing the cause of the infection makes it much more likely that treatment will be infected. The symptoms of these infections may be the same. The treatments are not. 

    The Problem with Syndromic Treatment

    Treating based on symptoms is called syndromic treatment or syndromic management. Unfortunately, it is not very effective for STDs. That's because so many STDs have exactly the same symptoms. (It's also because many STDs have no symptoms. With syndromatic management, no symptoms means no treatment.)

    If the different STDs were all treated in the same way, syndromatic treatment would be more effective. Unfortunately, each of the different bacterial STDs needs to be treated with a different antibiotic regimen. That's why testing is critical. It's important for the doctor to know what you have before they prescribe medication.Sometimes doctors will try treating based on symptoms, but that's not advisable.

    Syndromic management often leads to use of the wrong antibiotics. Not only does that not cure the STD, it could increase the problem of antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistant gonorrhea is becoming a significant problem around the world. It's important for doctors to do what they can to avoid that problem getting worse. 

    Learn more about the symptoms of other STDs.

    Sources:

    Anagrius C, Loré B, Jensen JS. Mycoplasma genitalium: prevalence, clinical significance, and transmission. Sex Transm Infect. 2005 Dec;81(6):458-62.

    Otieno FO, Ndivo R, Oswago S, Ondiek J, Pals S, McLellan-Lemal E, Chen RT, Chege W, Gray KM. Evaluation of syndromic management of sexually transmitted infections within the Kisumu Incidence Cohort Study. Int J STD AIDS. 2014 Oct;25(12):851-9. doi: 10.1177/0956462414523260.

    Patel AL, Chaudhry U, Sachdev D, Sachdeva PN, Bala M, Saluja D. An insight into the drug resistance profile & mechanism of drug resistance in Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Indian J Med Res. 2011 Oct;134:419-31. 

    Pettifor A, Walsh J, Wilkins V, Raghunathan P. How effective is syndromic management of STDs?: A review of current studies. Sex Transm Dis. 2000 Aug;27(7):371-85.

    Tosh AK, Van Der Pol B, Fortenberry JD, Williams JA, Katz BP, Batteiger BE, Orr DP. Mycoplasma genitalium among adolescent women and their partners. J Adolesc Health. 2007 May;40(5):412-7.

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