Doctors Believe Little-Known Sexually Transmitted Infection Linked to Infertility Could Become Superbug

Little-known STI linked to infertility may become superbug, doctors worry (© Provided by NBC News)

Doctors are urging more research into a little-known sexually transmitted infection that may be more common than thought.

Scientists have known for decades about mycoplasma genitalium, or M. genitalium or M. gen., a sexually-transmitted infection that may cause genital pain, bleeding and swelling, and has been linked to infertility and miscarriage. However, it wasn’t until 2019 that the first Food and Drug Administration-approved test for M. gen. became commercially available. Many cases may be going undiagnosed and untreated, doctors warn.

“It’s a real concern,” said Dr. Irene Stafford, associate professor of maternal-fetal medicine at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston. “Why are we not looking into this?”

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Stafford called for more research and testing for the bacterial infection Tuesday during the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conference for prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, where CDC officials warned about an “out of control” rise in STDs.

Similar to chlamydia and gonorrhea, M. gen. is sometimes asymptomatic, but it may lead to severe complications in both men and women. In men it can cause urethritis, a swelling and irritation of the urethra. In women, M. gen. is associated with cervical swelling, pelvic inflammatory disease, miscarriage, preterm birth, and infertility. In May, a large study published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infection found the risk of preterm birth increased nearly twofold among women with M. gen.

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SOURCE: NBC News, Caroline Hopkins

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