Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
, 44 (6), 1982-94

Epidemiology of Mycoplasma Genitalium in British Men and Women Aged 16–44 Years: Evidence From the Third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal-3)


Epidemiology of Mycoplasma Genitalium in British Men and Women Aged 16–44 Years: Evidence From the Third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal-3)

Pam Sonnenberg et al. Int J Epidemiol.


Background: There are currently no large general population epidemiological studies of Mycoplasma genitalium (MG), which include prevalence, risk factors, symptoms and co-infection in men and women across a broad age range.

Methods: In 2010-–12, we conducted the third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal-3), a probability sample survey in Britain. Urine from 4507 sexually-experienced participants, aged 16–44 years, was tested for MG.

Results: MG prevalence was 1.2% [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.7–1.8%] in men and 1.3% (0.9–1.9%) in women. There were no positive MG tests in men aged 16–19, and prevalence peaked at 2.1% (1.2–3.7%) in men aged 25–34 years. In women, prevalence was highest in 16–19 year olds, at 2.4% (1.2–4.8%), and decreased with age. Men of Black ethnicity were more likely to test positive for MG [adjusted odds ratio (AOR) 12.1; 95% CI: 3.7–39.4). For both men and women, MG was strongly associated with reporting sexual risk behaviours (increasing number of total and new partners, and unsafe sex, in the past year). Women with MG were more likely to report post-coital bleeding (AOR 5.8; 95%CI 1.4–23.3). However, the majority of men (94.4%), and over half of women (56.2%) with MG did not report any sexually transmitted infection (STI) symptoms. Men with MG were more likely to report previously diagnosed gonorrhoea, syphilis or non-specific urethritis, and women previous trichomoniasis.

Conclusions: This study strengthens evidence that MG is an STI. MG was identified in over 1% of the population, including in men with high-risk behaviours in older age groups that are often not included in STI prevention measures.


Figure 1.
Figure 1.
Risk factors for Mycoplasma genitalium (MG), Chlamydia trachomatis (CT) and high-risk HPV (HR-HPV), by gender; yr, year; num, number. AOR, adjusted odds ratio, adjusted for age, IMD and number of partners in the past year, except ‘unsafe sex’ which is adjusted for age and IMD only. Unsafe sex = 2+ partners in past year and not used a condom at all in past year.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 22 articles

See all "Cited by" articles


    1. McGowin CL, Anderson-Smits C. Mycoplasma genitalium: an emerging cause of sexually transmitted disease in women. PLoS Pathog 2011;7:e1001324. - PMC - PubMed
    1. Taylor-Robinson D, Jensen JS. Mycoplasma genitalium: from chrysalis to multicolored butterfly. Clin Microbiol Rev 2011;24:498–514. - PMC - PubMed
    1. Weinstein SA, Stiles BG. Recent perspectives in the diagnosis and evidence-based treatment of Mycoplasma genitalium. Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther 2012;10:487–99. - PubMed
    1. Manhart LE, Broad JM, Golden MR. Mycoplasma genitalium: Should we treat and how? Clin Infect Dis 2011;53:S129–42. - PMC - PubMed
    1. Horner P, Blee K, O’Mahony C, Muir P, Evans K, Radcliffe K. 2014 UK National Guideline on the Management of Non-gonococcal Urethritis. Macclesfield, UK: British Association for Sexual Health and HIV Clinical Effectiveness Group, 2014. - PubMed

Publication types

MeSH terms