Background: In clinical studies, Mycoplasma genitalium(MG) is commonly implicated in non-gonoccocal urethritis (NGU) in men and as a putative cause of female genital tract inflammation. Yet prevalence data and associated traits in the general population, which might inform clinical practice and population-based MG screening, are scarce. We present age and gender-specific population prevalence estimates for MG, and describe associated risk factors and symptoms.
Methods: In 2010-2012, we conducted a probability sample survey in Britain. Urine from 4,696 participants, aged 16-44 years (including 189 sexually-inexperienced participants aged 16-17 and 42 sexually-experienced participants aged 16-44 reporting only oral sex), was tested for MG. Results were linked to detailed demographic and behavioural data.
Results: MG prevalence in sexually-experienced 16-24 year olds was 1.7% (95%CI:1.1%-2.6%) in women and 0.4% (0.1-1.1) in men, whereas the prevalence in 25-44 year olds was 1.2% (0.4-1.9) and 1.5% (0.9-2.4) respectively. We detected no MG in sexually-inexperienced 16-17 year olds, or in 16-44 year olds reporting only oral sex. MG was significantly associated with younger age at first sex, more sexual partners in the past year, condomless sex, concurrency, same-sex experience ever (women), and black ethnicity (men). Most women (56%) and men (94%) with MG reported no STI symptoms, although MG was associated with post-coital bleeding in women. Women with MG were more likely to have high-risk human papillomavirus detected in urine, and to report previous trichomoniasis. Men with MG were more likely to report previous gonorrhoea, syphilis or NGU.
Conclusions: We provide the first population-based prevalence estimates for MG in Britain, and in those older than 27 years internationally, and strong evidence for MG being a STI. While the overall prevalence of MG was low, the age distribution, symptom profile, and some risk factors differed in women and men. These findings inform testing, treatment and control measures.