Most people know a little something about chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis and other STIs but have you ever heard of mycoplasma genitalium? Probably not…

Mycoplasma genitalium is an STI caused by a type of bacteria that anyone can get. It can infect the urethra (the tube you pee through), cervix or anus.

Causes

Mycoplasma genitalium can be spread through infected semen and vaginal fluids during:

  • Vaginal sex
  • Anal sex
  • The sharing of sex toys

Symptoms

Very often mycoplasma genitalium has no symptoms. When they do occur, symptoms can include:

  • Inflammation of the urethra
  • Stinging or burning when peeing
  • Abnormal discharge from the vagina or penis
  • Pain in the pelvic area where the uterus and fallopian tubes sit
  • Bleeding after sex or between periods

Doctors will only test for mycoplasma genitalium if you have symptoms. If you do have symptoms, contact your local doctor, Family Planning clinic or sexual health clinic to discuss testing.

Risks if not treated

Mycoplasma genitalium can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), an infection of the uterus and fallopian tubes, which can cause chronic pelvic pain and sometimes even infertility. Mycoplasma genitalium can lead to an inflamed cervix (cervicitis), and can also cause chronic pain, infection and inflammation of the testicles and urethra (urethritis).

Treatment

Mycoplasma genitalium is treated with oral antibiotics. Often, it is just one pill. The doctor will ask you to come back two to four weeks after treatment to be tested again to make sure the infection has cleared. If not, you may have to take a second round of a different antibiotic. Avoid sex without condoms until you know your treatment has worked. Current sexual partners will need to get treated at the same time.

Prevention

Condoms are the best way to protect yourself and your partner from mycoplasma genitalium and other STIs. Since many STIs including mycoplasma genitalium may have no signs or symptoms, it’s a good idea to have regular sexual health check-ups.

Your responsibilities

If you have mycoplasma genitalium you will need to let all of your sexual partners know so that they can be tested and treated. For advice on how to make it easier to tell them, visit the let them know website.