The main points
- Mycoplasma genitalium is a common infection affecting the cervix, urethra, and rectum.
Mycoplasma is passed on through unprotected sex, including sex toys and fingers.
- Most people infected with mycoplasma have no symptoms at all.
What is mycoplasma genitalium?
Mycoplasma genitalium is a bacterial sexually transmissible infection (STI). It can infect the cervix (top part of vagina), urethra (where urine comes out), and rectum (anal passage).
How do you get mycoplasma genitalium?
Mycoplasma genitalium is mainly passed on during unprotected sexual contact with someone who has mycoplasma genitalium. Sexual contact may be vaginal, anal or oral sex. Mycoplasma genitalium can also be passed on by touching the genitals with fingers (if you have infected fluids on your hand) or sharing sex toys.
Mycoplasma genitalium can affect anyone who is sexually active. It can be passed on whether your sexual partners are the same sex as you or a different sex.
How do I know if I have mycoplasma genitalium?
Many people with mycoplasma genitalium do not know because they do not have symptoms.
Some people may have symptoms such as:
- smelly or unusual discharge (fluid) from the vagina, penis or anus
- abnormal or irregular bleeding from the vagina (especially after sex)
- difficulty or pain (discomfort, stinging or burning) during urination (peeing)
- pelvic (lower abdomen) pain
- testicular pain
- rectal (anal passage) pain
- pain during sex.
If you have symptoms, STI testing is the best way to know if you have mycoplasma genitalium.
What does a test involve?
Testing for mycoplasma genitalium is simple. Usually, you can choose to pee in a small jar or use a cotton swab to collect a sample from your vagina, penis or anus.
Testing for mycoplasma genitalium is not a routine part of a sexual health screen. Usually, you will only be tested if you have symptoms or a sexual partner with known infection with mycoplasma genitalium.
You may choose to test for other STIs or BBVs at the same time as testing for mycoplasma genitalium.
Sexual Health Victoria (SHV) provides expert, confidential STI and BBV testing to Victorians. We also provide expert information, healthcare and support on a range of reproductive and sexual health matters. For more information on SHV clinical services, see our clinics or you can book an appointment online.
How is mycoplasma genitalium treated?
Mycoplasma genitalium is usually treated with two courses of antibiotics. This is usually 8 – 14 day course of tablets. Both courses of antibiotics need to be taken to cure mycoplasma genitalium.
Sometimes mycoplasma genitalium is resistant to certain antibiotics and you may need a different or longer course of antibiotics.
It is recommended you have a repeat test 4 weeks after you started treatment, or 2 weeks after you’ve finished both courses of antibiotics. This is to check that the treatment has worked and the mycoplasma genitalium is cured.
If you have symptoms or are a sexual contact of someone who has been diagnosed with mycoplasma genitalium, you may be offered treatment before your test results come back.
It is recommended you avoid sexual contact or use barrier protection (external condoms, internal condoms or dental dams) 100% of the time for any sexual activity until you and your partner/s have been cured of mycoplasma genitalium (test negative for it).
Where do I get treatment?
Your doctor or nurse will give you the antibiotics or a script which you can take to the pharmacy. You cannot buy medications to treat mycoplasma genitalium over the counter without a script.
What if I don't get treated?
Mycoplasma genitalium can cause health complications if not treated.
Untreated mycoplasma genitalium could lead to:
- infertility (inability for you or your sexual partner/s to become pregnant).
- passing the infection to your sexual partner/s — even if you do not have symptoms.
- increased risk of getting or spreading other sexually transmissible infections.
Will mycoplasma genitalium come back?
Mycoplasma genitalium is cured by effective treatment, but you do not develop any immunity. It is possible to get another mycoplasma genitalium infection.
To avoid being reinfected with mycoplasma genitalium it is recommended you avoid sexual contact or use barrier protection (external condoms, internal condoms or dental dams) until you (and your current sexual partner/s) have been retested to check for cure, 2 weeks after you have finished treatment or 4 weeks after you started treatment.
If you do not test negative for mycoplasma genitalium at test of cure, your doctor will discuss further treatment options with you.
Do I need to let my sexual partner/s know I have mycoplasma genitalium?
If you have been diagnosed with mycoplasma genitalium it is recommended you let your sexual partner/s know so they can make informed decisions about ways to lower the risk of passing it on and be tested and treated. If your current sexual partner/s are not treated, you could end up with mycoplasma genitalium again.
There are currently no guidelines recommending how far back to trace sexual partner/s to inform them you have been diagnosed with mycoplasma genitialium. You could follow chlamydia guidelines that recommended you contact any sexual partner/s you have had in the last 6 months.
There are some great websites to support you informing your sexual partners via a phone call, text message, letter or email. There are ways of doing this either personally or anonymously.
- Let Them Know
- The Drama Downunder - for men who have sex with men
- Better to know – for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
Your doctor or nurse can assist with informing your current or previous sexual partner/s.
What should I do if a sexual partner of mine has been diagnosed with an STI?
You may be notified that a sexual partner has been diagnosed with an STI or a BBV. Notification may be in person or via a phone call, text message, letter or email. You may have an infection too and be unaware as you may not have symptoms. See your doctor or nurse to discuss ways to lower the chances of passing it on, get tested and treated.
Will mycoplasma genitalium affect my pregnancy or breastfeeding?
If you are infected with an STI or BBV during pregnancy it can cause serious health complications for both you and your baby. Complications can include:
- Infection in the uterus (womb) after birth.
- Passing the infection to the baby (during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding) causing health conditions.
- Premature (early) birth.
If you are planning a pregnancy or already pregnant, it is recommended you and your sexual partner/s have STI and BBV screening tests, even if you have been tested in the past. You can speak to your doctor, nurse or midwife for more information.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding and considering treatment for an STI or BBV, ask your doctor, nurse or midwife about the possible effects of the treatment and/or medicine on your baby or breastfeeding.
How can I lower my risk of getting STIs and BBVs?
You can lower your risk of getting STIs and BBVs by using barrier protection (external condoms, internal condoms or dental dams) correctly during any type of sex (vaginal, anal or oral sex) and when sharing sex toys.
Barrier protection is not 100% effective at preventing STIs and BBVs.
You can also lower your risk of getting a BBV by:
- not sharing injecting equipment, razors, nail clippers
- only getting tattoos and piercing in regulated places
- talking to your doctor or nurse about HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) if you are at risk of HIV exposure.
You can also lower your risk of getting an STI or BBV by both you and your sexual partners having regular STI and BBV testing. To get an STI or BBV test at Sexual Health Victoria, see our clinics or you can book an appointment online.
Where to get more information and support
- Sexual Health Victoria
- Better Health Channel
- The Centre Clinic – a safe and friendly general practice, providing care for LGBTI community members as well as specialist medical care for people living with HIV, and expert sexual health screening and treatment.
- DirectLine 1800 888 236 – support for people affected by alcohol and other drugs including information on where to obtain new needles and syringes.
- Equinox – for transgender services
- Headspace – for young people
- Melbourne Sexual Health Centre – a specialist sexual health clinic.
- Minus 18 – for young lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people.
- Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health – for culturally and linguistically diverse women.
- PRONTO! – a peer-led service for men who have sex with men.
- Thorne Harbour Health (formerly Victorian AIDS Council)
- TouchBase – information, support and services for LGBTI people.
- A doctor or nurse.
- Your local community health service
If you are using the internet for information, only use reliable and reputable websites. Be aware of websites containing inaccurate and harmful information and imagery.