Ureaplasma Testing

Ureaplasma Testing

Table of Contents

Ureaplasma is a very common type of bacteria that can be transmitted through sexual activity. Some people experience symptoms from the infection, and it is also linked to issues like premature labor and infertility. 

If you’re concerned that you might have this infection, then you might be wondering how to test for ureaplasma. There are a few different ways to do this, but by far the most common is a ureaplasma PCR test. This looks for the genetic material of the ureaplasma bacteria. The PCR test for ureaplasma allows the test to pick up very small amounts of the bacteria’s genetic material. It can be performed quickly, so that you get results right away.

There is a very similar organism called mycoplasma that can also grow in the genital and urinary tracts. The symptoms of infection with mycoplasma are nearly identical to those of ureaplasma. A combined ureaplasma and mycoplasma test is often performed, and can check for the genetic material of both types of bacteria at the same time.

Besides the PCR test, another type of test is called a culture. This type of ureaplasma test checks to see if the bacteria grow from the sample. It takes 6-10 days for this type of test to return results. The advantage of a culture is that it can be used to check the bacteria for antibiotic resistance, to determine what type of treatment would be most likely to work. Usually, a culture is performed if antibiotic treatment doesn’t work, to help doctors decide what treatment to try next.

Ureaplasma Urine Test

The most common way to check for ureaplasma is through a urine test. For the best results, collect the first urine of the day. This is when the urine is the most concentrated, since you’ve been in bed all night and haven’t been drinking any fluids. Collecting the first morning urine gives the best chance for the test to catch a ureaplasma infection. The lab will give you more specific directions on how to collect a urine sample. A PCR test is performed on the urine sample to look for ureaplasma.

Ureaplasma Blood Test

There are also blood tests that can detect ureaplasma. However, these aren’t widely used for most patients. In the case of a severe infection, a PCR blood test is used to look for ureaplasma bacteria in the bloodstream, but this is not common. It’s also possible to use a blood test to look for antibodies to ureaplasma; if this test is positive, it only means that you have been exposed at some point in the past, and doesn’t necessarily indicate a current infection.

Ureaplasma Home Test

Going to a clinic in person to get your ureaplasma test is an option. However, many people prefer the convenience and discretion of a ureaplasma home test. It’s possible to get a test just for ureaplasma, or to test for other STDs at the same time.

When you get a home test, the company will mail a ureaplasma test kit to your home. It’s in discreet packaging, so anyone you live with will not know that you’re getting an STD test. You simply take samples and then send these back to the lab in the packaging provided. A PCR test for ureaplasma will be performed to check for the bacteria. You can check your results online. With some home testing services, if you do test positive for an infection, you can even get antibiotics to treat it through the mail as well. This completely avoids the need for a clinic visit.

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Ureaplasma Test Female

Ureaplasma testing in a woman may use a urine sample or a vaginal swab. Usually, a urine sample is used, because the collection is easier and the accuracy is slightly higher. There are a few situations in which a woman may want to be tested for ureaplasma.

  • Women who have had a known exposure to ureaplasma (a partner who tests positive)
  • Pregnant women, or women who are hoping to become pregnant
  • Women with symptoms like vaginal discharge or burning with urination, especially if these symptoms have not responded to standard antibiotic treatment

The symptoms of ureaplasma infection are very similar to the symptoms of other STDs, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis. In general, women who have these symptoms should be tested for these infections along with the test for ureaplasma.

How to Test for Ureaplasma in Males

In general, a urine test is used to check for ureaplasma in a man, although a semen sample can also be used. Men who may benefit from being tested for ureaplasma include:

  • Men whose partner has tested positive for ureaplasma, especially if their partner is pregnant or wants to become pregnant
  • Men with symptoms like burning with urination

As for women, men who are having symptoms should be tested for other STDs along with ureaplasma, because the symptoms are very similar.

If a man’s regular sexual partner tests positive for ureaplasma, it’s generally recommended that he be tested, even if he doesn’t have symptoms. This allows him to be treated so that he doesn’t give the infection back to his partner after treatment. Many men don’t have symptoms from ureaplasma infection, but they can carry the bacteria and transmit it to their partners.

There is an association between male infertility and ureaplasma infection, and some studies have found that treating this infection improves fertility in men. Some doctors recommend that men who are experiencing infertility be tested for ureaplasma, and treated if it is found.

Ureaplasma Test Cost

The cost for a ureaplasma test depends on a few factors. In general, getting a home test will be less expensive than going in for an in-person appointment, because you won’t need to pay for a doctor visit along with the test itself. The cost will also depend on whether you’re being tested only for ureaplasma, or you’re also getting tested for other STDs at the same time. To find out the precise cost, you’ll have to look at the specific test that you’re considering.

How Long Does a Ureaplasma Test Take?

When it’s done using PCR (the most common type of test), ureaplasma testing is very quick. Results are generally available within 1-2 days. If you get a ureaplasma home test, you’ll usually get your results within 1-2 days after the lab receives your sample. 

If a culture is used, then the test results will take longer to come back, because it takes time for the bacteria to grow. With a culture, the results usually take 6-10 days.

Sources

Ahmadi MH, Mirsalehian A, et al. Antibiotic treatment of asymptomatic Ureaplasma infection improves semen parameters in infertile men. J Appl Biomed. 2017 May;15(2):139-45. doi: 10.1016/j.jab.2016.11.004

Combaz-Söhnchen N, Kuhn A. A Systematic Review of Mycoplasma and Ureaplasma in Urogynaecology. Geburtshilfe Frauenheilkd. 2017 Dec;77(12):1299-1303. doi:  10.1055/s-0043-119687

Humburg J, Frei R, et al. Accuracy of urethral swab and urine analysis for the detection of Mycoplasma hominis and Ureaplasma urealyticum in women with lower urinary tract symptoms. Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2012 Apr;285(4):1049-53. doi: 10.1007/s00404-011-2109-1

Kokkayil P, Dhawan B. Ureaplasma: current perspectives. Indian J Med Microbiol. Apr-Jun 2015;33(2):205-14. doi: 10.4103/0255-0857.154850

Viscardi RM. Ureaplasma species: role in diseases of prematurity. Clin Perinatol. 2010 Jun;37(2):393-409. doi: 10.1016/j.clp.2009.12.003

Zhang N, Wang R, et al. Are Ureaplasma spp. a cause of nongonococcal urethritis? A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2014 Dec 2;9(12):e113771. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0113771


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