We are all familiar with chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis etc when thinking about STIs.
But when it comes to Mycoplasma genitalium, the knowledge base might be a little more patchy…
Mycoplasma genitalium has been associated with urethritis since the early 80s. However in those days, the only means of diagnosis was culture.
Have you ever tried to culture a Mycoplasma? It is not surprising that Mycoplasma genitalium was kept in the dark as a causative agent of Non-specific Urethritis (NSU) for a couple of decades. Quite simply, it was put in the ‘too difficult basket’ in terms of laboratory diagnosis.
It is only in the past few years that commercial PCR assays have become increasingly available for this pathogen. Consequently clinicians and microbiologists are becoming much more aware of it.
As a cause of urethritis it is more common than Neisseria gonorrhoeae, but less common than Chlamydia trachomatis.
Most labs still do not test for M. genitalium routinely, restricting testing to treatment failures or other special circumstances. However I think this will change in the future, and it may well be included in an NSU panel with C. trachomatis and N. gonorrhoeae.
If I was an examiner, and it is a relief to many that I am not, Mycoplasma genitalium would be one topic that I would ask about. I suspect it would be a good topic to separate the passes from the distinctions…
Click here for a short CDC review article on Mycoplasma genitalium (about a 5 minute read)