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Mycoplasma (Genital)

Does this test have other names?

Mycoplasma culture

What is this test?

This test looks for microorganisms in a sample of secretions from your genital area.

Mycoplasma are the smallest free-living organisms. They aren't bacteria or viruses. They don't have cell walls and can be many different shapes.

Three species of mycoplasma are closely related: Mycoplasma hominis, Mycoplasma genitalium and ureaplasma spp. These may be present in women who have a urinary tract infection, gynecological infection, vaginal discharge, or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). In men, mycoplasma may be present in some sexually transmitted infections.

If a pregnant woman has these microorganisms in her birth canal, her unborn baby can be exposed to them. They may grow in an infant for a few years, causing infections that affect the entire body.

For this test, a sample from the cervix in women or the urethra in men is sent to the lab. There it's placed in a culture medium to see if the microorganisms grow. 

Why do I need this test?

You may need this test if you have symptoms of a genital or urinary tract infection. Finding out the cause of your infection helps your doctor determine how to treat it. Symptoms in women include:

  • Cervical and pelvic pain

  • Bleeding after intercourse or in between menstrual periods

  • Vaginal discharge 

Symptoms in men include:

  • Inflammation of the urethra

  • Itching and tingling of the urethra

  • Penile discharge

Not all infections have symptoms, however.

What other tests might I have along with this test?

Your doctor may also order these tests:

  • Culture tests for other diseases of the genital and urinary tract, such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, or trichomoniasis to rule out these infections

  • Polymerase chain reaction test (PCR) to find out the strain of mycoplasma. A PCR test may be better than a mycoplasma culture for finding mycoplasma in genital secretions.

How is this test done?

This test requires a sample of secretions from your genital area. If you're a woman, your doctor will collect the sample by placing a cotton swab on your cervix. If you're a man, your doctor will place the swab in your urethra. 

What do my test results mean?

Many things may affect your lab test results. These include the method each lab uses to do the test. Even if your test results are different from the normal value, you may not have a problem. To learn what the results mean for you, talk with your health care provider.

Normal results are negative, meaning that no mycoplasma were found in the sample.

Positive results mean that mycoplasma were found and that you may have a sexually transmitted disease or PID. But some mycoplasma may be present without causing disease.

Does this test pose any risks?

This test poses no known risks. Urethral and cervical swabs may feel uncomfortable.

What might affect my test results?

In women, using lubricants, douches, and disinfectants can affect results, as can your monthly period. In men, urinating within an hour before testing may affect results.

How do I get ready for this test?

Women should not use a douche or disinfectants the day before testing. Men should not urinate one hour before testing.