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A new threat to women’s health and fertility

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The bacteria can render women infertile The bacteria has the potential to render women infertile and may become drug resistant

Up to 3000 women a year with pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) caused by the sexually transmitted infection (STI) Mycoplasma genitalium ‘could be at increased risk of infertility’ if multidrug resistance emerges, the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) warned recently.1 A BASHH survey found that 72% of 169 sexual health experts predicted that, unless current practice changes, this diminutive bottle-shaped bacterium – discovered in 1981, but only now receiving the attention it deserves – could become resistant to 1st- and 2nd-line antibiotics within a decade.1

M. genitalium is still relatively common. In 2010-12, researchers tested for M. genitalium in urine collected from 4507 sexually experienced British people enrolled in the third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal-3). The prevalence of M. genitalium was 1.2% in men and 1.3% in women aged 16 to 44 years. The prevalence peaked at 2.1% in men aged 25-34 years and at 2.4% in women aged 16-19 years. People aged 25-44 years accounted for 90.6% of M. genitalium infections in men and 66.5% among women.2

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