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Mycoplasma genitalium infection in men and women

Victoria Mobley, MD, MPH
Arlene C Seña, MD, MPH
Section Editor
Noreen A Hynes, MD, MPH, DTM&H
Deputy Editor
Allyson Bloom, MD


Mycoplasma genitalium is a bacterium that is a common cause of nongonococcal urethritis (NGU) in men [1-4] and an increasingly recognized cause of cervicitis [5-9] and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women [10-15].

M. genitalium infection is discussed here. Other causes of urethritis, cervicitis, and pelvic inflammatory disease are discussed elsewhere. (See "Approach to infectious causes of dysuria in the adult man" and "Acute cervicitis" and "Pelvic inflammatory disease: Clinical manifestations and diagnosis" and "Epidemiology and pathogenesis of Neisseria gonorrhoeae infection" and "Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of Chlamydia trachomatis infections".)

Infections caused by other Mycoplasma species are also discussed in detail elsewhere. (See "Mycoplasma pneumoniae infection in adults" and "Mycoplasma pneumoniae infection in children" and "Mycoplasma hominis and Ureaplasma urealyticum infections".)


M. genitalium was first described in 1981 after being isolated from the urethral specimens of two men diagnosed with nongonococcal urethritis (NGU) [16]. It is a member of the Mycoplasmataceae family and Mollicutes class of bacteria [17]. It lacks a cell wall and is thus not visible following Gram staining. With a genome of only 580 kilobases in size, M. genitalium is the smallest known self-replicating bacterium. Its genomic structure is similar to the larger and more well-known pathogen Mycoplasma pneumoniae, a cause of atypical bacterial pneumonia [18]. (See "Mycoplasma pneumoniae infection in adults".)

Culture of M. genitalium is extremely difficult, as the organism is fastidious and may require one to two months to grow. Growth is optimal at 37° Celsius in an anaerobic atmosphere of nitrogen with 5 percent CO2 [19]. On culture, M. genitalium does not produce hemolysis, and its colonies look like a "fried egg," having a dense center and paler outer zone. On electron microscopy, the organism has a tapered flask or bottle-like shape.

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Mar 08, 2017.
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