Though recently a prevailing health concern, Mycoplasma bacterium isn’t a new medical discovery. It was first discovered in the 1980s. Mycoplasma genitalium is a small, disease-causing organism which can be transmitted from one person to another through sexual intercourse, as well as through genital fondling and rubbing of an infected person.
It lives in the urinary and genital tracts of both men and women. Over the years, Mycoplasma genitalium has developed a great resistance to antibiotic treatment. This resistance has led to increasing difficulty in effectively treating infection caused by the bacterium.
More dangerously, Mycoplasma genitalium infection presents with no symptoms (just like in many STDs), and can slowly but uninhibitedly progress, producing very destructive health complications.
It is quite possible for clinicians who are not familiar with the infection to mistake it for other sexually transmitted diseases, a situation that can make Mycoplasma genitalium infection go unsearched for, undetected, or poorly treated.
Problems arising from Mycoplasma genitalium infection can be:
- Urethritis. This is the inflammation of the urethra. In men, the urethra is the urinary tract which carries urine from the bladder to the penis
- Cervicitis. This is the inflammation of the cervix in women
- Pelvic Inflammatory Diseases
- Endometritis. This is the inflammation of the linings of the wall of the uterus (womb)
- Tubal infertility
- Preterm birth
- Increased risk of contracting and transmitting HIV
High-risk population that could be affected by Mycoplasma genitalium
- Sexually active persons
- Women with more than three sexual partners at the same time
- Women with partners who have urogenital problems
- Men with more than three sexual partners at the same time
- Men who got initiated into the acts of sexual intercourse before their 18th birthday.
Suspect Mycoplasma genitalium infection in:
- Men suffering from urethritis that has failed to be effectively treated with antibiotics
- Women who tested negative for Gonorrhea and Chlamydia with recurrent cervicitis that failed to be treated with antibiotics
Symptoms of Mycoplasma genitalium infection
When symptoms are present, the infection can be mistaken for Gonorrhea or Chlamydia.
In men, the symptoms include:
- A burning sensation during urination
- Watery discharge from the penis
- Feeling of wanting to urinate frequently
- A case of urethritis that is persistent
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Painful ejaculation
- Arthritis. This brings about pain and swelling of the joints.
In women, symptoms of Mycoplasma genitalium infection include:
- Pain during and after sexual intercourse
- Abnormal vaginal discharge. The odor could be fishy
- A burning sensation while urinating
- Abdominal pain
- Vaginal bleeding after sex or in between menstrual periods
- Vaginal itching
- Secretion of fluid containing mucus and pus from the cervix
Diagnosing Mycoplasma genitalium
Dr. Oluwatosin J. Goje of Women's Health Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Ohio, noted that the isolation and culturing of Mycoplasma genitalium is not ideal when there is an urgent need to start an antimicrobial therapy. He went on to name Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT) as the preferred technique for diagnosing Mycoplasma genitalium infection.
Samples needed for NAAT include samples from the urethra and vagina; cervical swabs, urine, and endometrial biopsies. Though NAAT is the most preferred technique, presently, it can only be used in research outfits and in referred laboratories. This makes it not readily available, leaving clinicians in small hospitals with the option of suspecting and treating Mycoplasma genitalium infection when other STDs have been ruled out via symptoms and resistance to antibiotic treatment.
Treatment for Mycoplasma genitalium infection
The resistance of the bacterium to antibiotics makes treatment an overwhelming task. Treating the infection with antibiotics that are not fashioned out for it can increase its resistance to treatment. Penicillin is ineffective against Mycoplasma genitalium. Many patients treated with Doxycycline could not be cured of the infection.
It is recommended that patients who do not respond to an initial course of Doxycycline treatment be given a second regimen of antibiotic treatment involving Azithromycin. Where Azithromycin fails, Moxifloxacin is recommended at 400 mg daily for up to two weeks.
Prevention of Mycoplasma genitalium infection
Abstaining from sex is the surest way of not contracting and transmitting Mycoplasma genitalium. Persons who are sexually active should use condoms during sex, though the use doesn't keep the bacterium from being contracted.
It is important to get screened routinely and also get treated when infected. One's partner/s should be tested and treated for the infection. During the period of treatment, it is safe to avoid having sex or any form of sexual contact. Before having sex again, get tested to certify that you are free from the infection.