Background Mycoplasma genitalium is a common cause of non-gonococcal non-chlamydial urethritis but prevalence rates in asymptomatic populations are not well-established.
Objectives To estimate the prevalence of M. genitalium in adult women and men in general population and clinic based samples.
Methods We searched Embase, Medline, IndMED, AIM and LILACS. We examined eligible studies in forest plots and conducted random effects meta-analysis if appropriate. Between study heterogeneity was examined by use of the I2 statistic.
Results Of 4355 screened abstracts, 55 studies were eligible. In high income countries that described samples from the general population, prevalence estimates ranged from 0.5 to 3.3% (pooled prevalence 1.4% (95% confidence intervals, CI 0.9 to 1.9%, I2 72.2%). In three studies with population-based random sampling prevalence was 1.2% (95% CI 0.9 to 1.6%, I2 30.1%). Pooled estimates of prevalence in other populations were: pregnant women 1.2% (95% CI 0.4 to 1.9%, I2 85.1%, 4 studies); men who have sex (MSM) in the general population 2.3% (95% CI 1.6 to 3.1, I2 0%, 3 studies); and clinic-based samples of MSM 5.2% (95% CI 4.2% to 6.1%, I2 0%, 2 studies). In female sex workers in low income countries, prevalence estimates ranged from 13.2 to 26.3% (4 studies).
Discussion Prevalence rates of M. genitalium in the overall general population, population-based samples of MSM and pregnant women in high income countries are low. Estimates of prevalence are higher in MSM in clinic-based samples and in female sex workers in low income countries.