JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Mycoplasma genitalium: an emerging cause of sexually transmitted disease in women

Chris L McGowin, Colin Anderson-Smits
PLoS Pathogens 2011, 7 (5): e1001324
21637847
Mycoplasma genitalium is an emerging sexually transmitted pathogen implicated in urethritis in men and several inflammatory reproductive tract syndromes in women including cervicitis, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), and infertility. This comprehensive review critically examines epidemiologic studies of M. genitalium infections in women with the goal of assessing the associations with reproductive tract disease and enhancing awareness of this emerging pathogen. Over 27,000 women from 48 published reports have been screened for M. genitalium urogenital infection in high- or low-risk populations worldwide with an overall prevalence of 7.3% and 2.0%, respectively. M. genitalium was present in the general population at rates between those of Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Considering more than 20 studies of lower tract inflammation, M. genitalium has been positively associated with urethritis, vaginal discharge, and microscopic signs of cervicitis and/or mucopurulent cervical discharge in seven of 14 studies. A consistent case definition of cervicitis is lacking and will be required for comprehensive understanding of these associations. Importantly, evidence for M. genitalium PID and infertility are quite convincing and indicate that a significant proportion of upper tract inflammation may be attributed to this elusive pathogen. Collectively, M. genitalium is highly prevalent in high- and low-risk populations, and should be considered an etiologic agent of select reproductive tract disease syndromes in women.

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