Ureaplasma Causes and Symptoms
Table of Contents
- Written by Dr. Patricia Shelton on 12 January 2022
Ureaplasma is caused by a type of bacteria called Ureaplasma urealyticum. This organism lives in the genital and urinary tracts in many people. It is usually passed from one person to another through sexual contact. However, some studies have found these bacteria in people who have never had sex, which indicates that other modes of transmission are possible.
This organism is extremely common in the population. Studies have found ureaplasma bacteria in around half of all people. Many people with ureaplasma do not have any symptoms. They may find out that they have it only when they test positive. The test will show the result as “Ureaplasma spp NAA.” This simply means that a particular type of test found one or more species of ureaplasma bacteria.
If your test shows Ureaplasma spp NAA, symptoms may or may not occur. Ureaplasma symptoms can occur when the bacteria overgrow, which causes irritation to the mucous membranes where it lives. If symptoms do occur, the specific symptoms will depend on the patient’s gender and where they have the infection.
Ureaplasma Symptoms Female
In many cases, the presence of the ureaplasma bacteria is normal and doesn’t cause any symptoms. However, if a woman does experience ureaplasma infection symptoms, these may include:
- Pain or burning with urination
- Need to urinate frequently
- Discharge from the urethra (the opening where urine comes out)
- Pain or ache in the pelvic area or genitals
- Watery vaginal discharge
- Unpleasant vaginal odor
These ureaplasma signs are similar to the symptoms of many other sexually transmitted infections. In women, if a ureaplasma infection goes untreated, then it can lead to long-term consequences like infertility. The irritation caused by the infection also increases the likelihood of getting another STD.
In addition, ureaplasma has been linked to serious complications in a pregnancy, including preterm labor. Even if a pregnant woman doesn’t experience symptoms from the infection, it could still affect the baby.
Ureaplasma Symptoms Male
Similarly, a man may have no ureaplasma bacteria symptoms. If he does experience symptoms, these are fairly similar to the symptoms that are experienced by women, and may include:
- Pain or burning with urination
- Need to urinate frequently
- Slow urine stream or difficulty fully emptying the bladder
- Swelling of the urethra (the opening where urine comes out)
- Discharge from the urethra
Just as for women, the symptoms of ureaplasma in men are similar to the symptoms of many other STDs. In addition, an untreated ureaplasma infection also increases the likelihood of getting another STD. Some studies have also linked untreated ureaplasma to infertility in men.
Ureaplasma in Mouth Symptoms
Although it usually grows in the urinary and genital tracts, it is also possible for the ureaplasma bacteria to grow in the throat. This type of infection is most likely to be transmitted through performing oral sex on a man, but oral sex on a woman may also transmit it.
Sometimes, a person with ureaplasma in the throat may experience mild symptoms, such as a sore throat. However, many people who have ureaplasma in the throat will not experience any symptoms at all. Even without symptoms, the infection can still be transmitted to others via oral sex.
Does ureaplasma need treatment?
In general, people who don’t have any ureaplasma infection symptoms don’t need treatment. If ureaplasma is found on an STD screening, but you aren’t having any symptoms at all, then it may not be necessary to do anything about it.
Those who are experiencing symptoms should receive treatment with an antibiotic. In addition, if ureaplasma is found in a pregnant woman, then it’s generally recommended to treat the infection even if there are no apparent symptoms. This helps to prevent serious complications like preterm labor. If a woman is pregnant or intending to become pregnant, and she tests positive for ureaplasma, then she should be treated even if she doesn’t have symptoms. Her partner should also be tested (even if there are no symptoms) and treated if necessary, to prevent infecting the mother-to-be.
The symptoms of ureaplasma infection are very similar to the symptoms of many other STDs, including trichomoniasis and bacterial vaginosis. For example, the ureaplasma symptoms discharge from the vagina is green and smells fishy, much like the discharge created by other infections. In addition, a person can have more than one infection at the same time. This is why testing is very important to determine the cause of the symptoms. Different infections require different treatments, so an accurate diagnosis is essential.
If you’re having symptoms of an STD or believe that you may have been exposed, then you have a few options for testing. One option is to go to an STD clinic to get tested in person. There is also convenient home STD testing available. The test kit is mailed to your house in discreet packaging, and you take samples yourself and mail them back to be tested in the lab. If you’re found to have an infection, you may also be able to get the antibiotics that you need in the mail through the same service.
How long does ureaplasma last?
In some cases, a ureaplasma infection will clear up on its own without treatment. However, this can take a few months, and many people don’t want to live with their symptoms for that long. Additionally, an untreated infection could lead to infertility and other serious issues, so treatment is recommended.
When treated with an antibiotic (most commonly azithromycin or doxycycline), symptoms of ureaplasma will generally clear up within a few days. The antibiotic is continued for seven days, and almost all patients will no longer have symptoms by the time this is finished. If symptoms continue even when the course of antibiotics is completed, then a different antibiotic might be needed.
If I have ureaplasma does my partner have it too?
Once a person has an overgrowth of the ureaplasma bacteria, then it can be passed to a partner. If you are getting treatment for ureaplasma, then it’s generally recommended for your partner to be tested also, so they can receive treatment if they have the infection. Your partner should be tested even if they don’t have symptoms. Otherwise, your partner will very likely give ureaplasma back to you. The azithromycin ureaplasma treatment (or a different antibiotic) can be given to you both at the same time, and you should abstain from sex or use condoms until you have both cleared the infection. This means that you no longer have symptoms, and have tested negative.
Does ureaplasma mean cheating?
Although ureaplasma can be acquired through sexual activity, these bacteria have also been found in people who have never had sex. In addition, people can acquire ureaplasma and then have it for many years without showing any symptoms. Later, the bacteria can overgrow and cause symptoms to appear. If your partner has ureaplasma, they could have gotten it from a previous partner years ago and not had symptoms until now, or they may even have been infected in another way. It’s not possible to determine that someone has been cheating based solely on testing positive for ureaplasma.
Can ureaplasma come back?
After someone has been treated for ureaplasma, it is possible for the infection to return. In some cases, the bacteria may be resistant to the antibiotic. Treatment with a different antibiotic might help. Additionally, since ureaplasma is so common in the population, it can easily be acquired again after having gotten rid of it.
If you get treatment for ureaplasma, but then develop symptoms again, you should be tested. Keep in mind that the symptoms of ureaplasma are similar to the symptoms of other STDs, so testing will be needed to determine the cause of your symptoms. It may be that your ureaplasma has come back, or it may be a different infection.
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Huang C, Zhu HL, et al. Mycoplasma and ureaplasma infection and male infertility: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Andrology 2015 Sep;3(5):809-16. doi: 10.1111/andr.12078
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