What is Mycoplasma genitalium?

Written by

Lauren Dobischok
17 October, 2023

Medically checked article All HOMED-IQ content is reviewed by medical specialists

Mycoplasma genitalium, often referred to as M. genitalium, is a sexually transmitted bacteria that can cause infections of the genital tract, including the cervix, rectum, and inside of the penis. M. genitalium is spread through unprotected sexual intercourse, and many people with an infection experience no symptoms, making detection and treatment difficult. While M. genitalium is easily treated with antibiotics, an untreated infection can lead to serious problems. In this blog, we’ll cover everything you need to know about M. genitalium: How it is transmitted, how to test for it, and how to treat it.

Table of Contents

How is Mycoplasma genitalium transmitted?

M. genitalium is transmitted through unprotected vaginal or anal sex. Researchers are still studying whether M. genitalium can be transmitted through oral sex. As M. genitalium is transmitted through unprotected sexual contact, people with multiple sexual partners who do not use condoms or other barrier methods during sex are at a higher risk of infection. Wearing a condom can help prevent getting M. genitalium or passing it on to others. It is also important to note that someone can transmit an M. genitalium infection to others even if they do not have any symptoms (CDC, 2022).

Activities that do not transmit Mycoplasma genitalium

There are many myths about how one can get M. genitalium. However, the infection is only transmitted through sexual contact. You cannot get M. genitalium from:

  • Sharing a bath or shower
  • Sharing a towel
  • Visiting a public swimming pool
  • Using a public or shared toilet

Source: CDC, 2022

Can you get Mycoplasma genitalium more than once?

Yes, you can. Like Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea, M. genitalium is a bacterial infection that is treated with antibiotics. However, our bodies do not develop immunity to the bacteria after being infected. This means it is possible to have M. genitalium more than once, including being reinfected by a sex partner if you are not both properly treated. To prevent recurring infections, it is important to get tested regularly, practice safe sex ( e.g. wearing a condom), and to ensure you and any sex partners complete a full course of treatment before having sex again (Sethi et al., 2017).

What symptoms does Mycoplasma genitalium cause?

Many people infected with M. genitalium do not have any symptoms and may not know they are infected. For those who do develop symptoms, they can vary.

Symptoms in men

Symptoms in women

  • Burning or pain when urinating
  • Unusual discharge from the vagina
  • Pain in the lower abdomen or pelvic area
  • Discomfort during sexual intercourse
  • Bleeding after intercourse
  • Bleeding between menstrual periods
  • Discomfort or discharge in the anal area after anal sex

Symptoms of M. genitalium can often be non-specific and similar to those of other sexually transmitted infections, which can make accurate diagnosis difficult (NHS, 2023). Getting tested for STIs can provide clarity as to what is causing your symptoms and allow you to get prompt, effective treatment.

Is Mycoplasma genitalium dangerous?

An untreated M. genitalium infection can lead to serious health problems over time. 

  • In women, untreated infection can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can cause pain and long-term damage to the reproductive system. 
  • In men, persistent infection can lead to epididymitis, a painful inflammation of the epididymis. The epididymis are tubes at the back of the testicles that carry sperm.
  • In pregnancy, M. genitalium is associated with a higher risk of preterm birth and miscarriage.

Source: CDC, 2021

Can Mycoplasma genitalium cause infertility?

Yes, if not treated, M. genitalium can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, a condition that can cause damage to the fallopian tubes and lead to infertility in women (Tantengco et al., 2021).

How is Mycoplasma genitalium diagnosed?

M. genitalium is diagnosed through a laboratory test. This test usually involves a urine sample or swabs from the genital area. The sample is then analyzed using nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT), which can detect the genetic material of the bacterium (CDC, 2021). The result of an M. genitalium test will be either negative or positive. 

How does a Mycoplasma genitalium test work?

In order to test for M. genitalium, samples must be taken from the affected areas to check for bacteria. In men, this usually involves a urine sample or a swab from the urethra. In women, a swab sample is usually taken from the vagina or cervix. After the sample is collected, it is sent to a laboratory to confirm the presence of the bacterium (Sethi et al., 2017).

What is the window period of Mycoplasma genitalium?

In medicine, the window period is the time between the moment of infection and the moment at which an STI can be detected by a test. The exact window period for M. genitalium can vary, and current guidelines suggest waiting a minimum of four weeks (28 days) to check for this STI. If you think you have potentially been exposed to M. genitalium or other STIs, it is important to talk to your doctor about when to get tested (CDC, 2023).

How is Mycoplasma genitalium treated?

Treatment for M. genitalium usually involves the administration of antibiotics such as azithromycin or doxycycline. However, antibiotic resistance is becoming a growing problem in M. genitalium infections, which makes treatment more complicated. To help prevent antibiotic resistance, it is crucial to follow the antibiotic treatment exactly according to the doctor’s instructions. This means continuing to take all prescribed medication, even if your symptoms go away. If your symptoms persist or recur shortly after therapy, speak to your doctor- adjustments to treatment may be necessary (John Hopkins University, 2022). 

How long does treatment for Mycoplasma genitalium last?

The duration of treatment for M. genitalium can vary, depending on the severity of the infection and the antibiotic used. Emerging antibiotic resistance can prolong the course of treatment for M. genitalium infections, which is why it is essential to fully complete the full course of any prescribed antibiotics. After treatment has ended, a follow-up test is usually recommended in a few weeks to ensure that the infection has been completely cleared.

Is there a vaccine against Mycoplasma genitalium?

There is currently no vaccine against M. genitalium (Sethi et al., 2017). As M. genitalium is a bacterial infection, the best way to prevent it is using condoms and practicing safe sex.

Is mycoplasma genitalium curable?

Yes, M. genitalium is curable with appropriate antibiotic therapy. However, timely treatment is essential to prevent long term complications and prevent spreading the infection to others. If you have symptoms that could indicate a M. genitalium infection, speak to your doctor.


Geisler, W. M. (n.d.). Mycoplasma genitalium Co-infection In Women with Chlamydia trachomatis Infection. NCBI. Retrieved October 15, 2023, from

Mycoplasma genitalium – Devon Sexual Health. (n.d.). Devon Sexual Health. Retrieved October 13, 2023, from

Mycoplasma genitalium Management in Adults. (2022, March 7). NCBI. Retrieved October 13, 2023, from

Mycoplasma genitalium – STI Treatment Guidelines. (2021, July 22). CDC. Retrieved October 15, 2023, from

Mycoplasma genitalium – STI Treatment Guidelines. (2021, July 22). CDC. Retrieved October 15, 2023, from

The role of genital mycoplasma infection in female infertility: A systematic review and meta-analysis. (n.d.). PubMed. Retrieved October 15, 2023, from

STD Facts – Mgen. (2022, November 16). CDC. Retrieved October 13, 2023, from

Weighing Potential Benefits and Harms of Mycoplasma genitalium Testing and Treatment Approaches. (n.d.). NCBI. Retrieved October 13, 2023, from

About the author

Lauren Dobischok

Lauren is a health scientist and science communicator currently living in the Netherlands. Originally from Canada, she completed a Research Master’s in Health Sciences at the Netherlands Institute of Health Sciences at Erasmus University Rotterdam (NIHES) with a specialisation in epidemiology. Prior to her master’s degree, she completed a Bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University. With a background in public health, her goal is to create accurate scientific content that is easy to understand and empowers people to make informed decisions. Within Homed-IQ, Lauren works as a Product Developer and Content Lead, working closely with physicians and scientists on medical devices for Homed-IQ’s new products and written communications.