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Mycoplasma genitalium, or Mgen, was first identified in 1981. It is a bacterium that can infect the reproductive tract and is passed on through sexual contact.

In people with a penis, infection with Mgen can cause urethritis (swelling and irritation of the urethra), and in people with a uterus it’s been linked to cervicitis (inflammation of the cervix), pelvic inflammatory disease, and possibly infertility.

How common is it?

While there aren’t statistics to show how common infection with Mgen is, in one study of 2,932 young people, Mgen was more common that gonorrhea, but less than chlamydia and trichomoniasis. Like those infections, Mgen can be present with no symptoms, particularly in women. If there are symptoms, they may include:

  • pain with urination
  • vaginal discharge
  • discomfort with sex
  • discharge from the penis

How do you test for it?

There are currently two FDA-approved diagnostic tests for Mgen. Labs can use a specific type of test method—nucleic acid amplification testing (NAAT)—to identify an Mgen infection. Testing can be done on urine, cervical swabs, or urethral swabs.

Can it be treated?

Since Mgen is a bacterial infection, it can typically be cured with antibiotics, sometimes with a single dose. Occasionally, if a first course of antibiotics doesn’t cure the infection, an additional antibiotic treatment may be required.

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