Though ureaplasma and mycoplasma are two independent types of bacteria, they are often both found in the body together.
There are five forms of mycoplasma, four of which are transmitted through sex. The four sexually transmitted types are mycoplasma hominis, mycoplasma genitalium, ureaplasma urealyticum, and ureaplasma parvum.
Mycoplasma is a group of tiny bacteria that inhabits the respiratory, urinary, and reproductive tracts.
They can be asymptomatic, meaning more than half of those with infections don’t have symptoms. If left untreated, mycoplasma and ureaplasma can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, causing severe inflammation of the uterus or urethra; kidney infections and kidney stones; increased risk of miscarriage; a potential increased risk of premature birth; complications during pregnancy; and infertility.
Thankfully, it is easy to get tested. SelfCollect offers a dual at-home mycoplasma and ureaplasma test.
Mycoplasma hominis is a sexually transmitted disease that lives in the urinary tract and genitals of about half of all women in the world and in a small percentage of men. If you’re healthy, you have nothing to worry about - this form of mycoplasma rarely causes infections in people with non-compromised immune systems.
It can cause severe urinary tract infections in those with weakened immune systems.
If you’re a woman with a weakend or compromised immune system, you are at the most risk for an infection or for it to be transmitted to you during sex. It can infect your reproductive organs, leading to pelvic inflammatory disease.
If you’re pregnant, mycoplasma hominis can lead to premature births or miscarriage. It can also be transferred to the baby during childbirth, often causing fever and infections in your newborn.
Mycoplasma genitalium can be found in the vagina, cervix, and endometrium. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), mycoplasma genitalium is found in 10-30% of women with clinical cervicitis (an inflamed cervix).
An infection can cause urinary and genital tract inflammation in both men and women. Like hominis, it can lead to pelvic inflammation and infertility.
Mycoplasma genitalium shares many symptoms with chlamydia and gonorrhea, including urethritis. Men can experience frequent urination or the constant feeling of needing to urinate, a burning sensation while urinating, pain during intercourse or ejaculation, or discharge from the penis.
Women can experience abdominal pain, vaginal pain, frequent urination or the constant feeling of needing to urinate, a burning sensation while urinating, pain during intercourse, abnormal vaginal discharge, or abnormal vaginal bleeding.
Ureaplasma urealyticum and ureaplasma parvum are not commonly differentiated against. Though a few recent studies have distinguished differences between the two, not enough data is available to determine if they are two different species of ureaplasma or if the differ in pathogenicity, according to Science Direct. The bacteria was previously called T-strain Mycoplasma.
Ureaplasma bacteria is found in the lower genital tract (vulva, vagina and cervix) in up to 75% of women who are of reproductive age. It can also ascend to the fallopian tubes. The presence of the bacteria does not mean you have an infection. Ureaplasma bacteria can be naturally occuring and infections do not occur unless there is overgrowth.
Ureaplasma infections can also be found in the premature baby’s lower respiratory tract. The European Respiratory Society International Congress conducted a recent study and found that premature babies who have ureaplasma bacteria in their lungs at birth are more likely to develop respiratory problems during their first year of life and have a higher mortality rate.
Ureaplasma species may play a role in premature rupture of fetal membranes, preterm labor, intra-amniotic infection, low birth weight, chorioamnionitis (infection of the membrane and amniotic fluid), funisitis (inflammation of the umbilical cord’s connective tissues), and placental invasion.
Though many studies find a correlation, more research is needed to find conclusive evidence on the correlation between ureaplasma infections, preterm births and pregnancy complications.
Infertility in Men and Women
Untreated mycoplasma and ureaplasma infections are thought to lead to infertility. More research is being conducted to find conclusive correlations between the infection and infertility.
An infertility study conducted with 46 infertile women found that 21% of the women were positive for ureaplasma and 1.3% were positive for mycoplasma. Other studies that researched the antibodies in the female reproductive tract have found correlations between the infections and tubal factor infertility as well.
A study published in the U.S. Library of Medicine titled “Evaluation of the role of Ureaplasma urealyticum in infertility,” also found that ureaplasma is more often found in female genitial tracts of infertile couples than in fertile couples.
According to the CDC, it remains unknown whether mycoplasma infections can cause male infertility.
Though the most common form of mycoplasma infections cause respiratory distress, other strains of the bacteria can affect your reproductive health and the health of your unborn child.
Over half of the people who tested positive for infections do not experience symptoms. Getting tested, especially if you are a woman looking to get pregnant or are already pregnant, is essential. If left untreated, it raises the risk of having complications during your pregnancy, have a preterm birth, passing on the infection to your child, or infertility.
Mycoplasma and ureaplasma infections can be treated with antibiotics, but treatment can be difficult. A test of cure is always recommended 4-6 weeks after completing treatment.
Protecting yourself is easy: practice safe sex with a condom and abstain from all sexual activity until the infection is gone.
If you’re worried about your or your partner’s reproductive health, SelfCollect’s dual mycoplasma and ureaplasma test can help. Get tested today.