Ureaplasma is a kind of bacteria, which originates from the family of bacteria most commonly known as Mycoplasma. Mycoplasma are the smallest living species among the prokaryotes and their biological properties include the lack of a cell wall, Gram stain reaction and their neurosusceptibility to common antimicrobial prescribed medicines, such as beta-lactum. These kinds of bacteria are extremely difficult to spot and treat, as they are microscopic.
Another characteristic that differentiates them from the normal bacteria is that they lack a cellular boundary or cell wall. This is what makes them less susceptible to common antibiotics as the outer cell wall of the bacteria assists the drug to attack the bacteria. This makes them unique as their resistance to regular antibiotics, like penicillin, makes them difficult to treat.
Mycoplasma organism usually infects the respiratory tract and urogenital tracts in humans. Ureaplasma bacteria however is, as its name suggests, usually found in the urogenital tract and the major root cause of most urinary tract infections. This bacterium affects both men and women and in young men, it is associated with non-gonococcal, non-chlamydial urethritis (inflammation of the urethra). In men, the Ureaplasma infection can occur and can cause nonchlamydial nongonococcal urethritis. 40%-80% of women, who are sexually active, are also affected by the Ureaplasma infection and this organism is also found in women, when they are not sexually active or in the absence of the disease itself.
Like any other form or type of bacteria, these bacteria can be passed from person to person, as well as through direct sexual contact. However, they are not considered sexually transmitted infections (STIs). As compared to other STIs, like Chlamydia and gonorrhea, Ureaplasma infection doesn’t pose a very high rate of transmission through sexual contact. Moreover, it is not considered an STI, because it can be generally found in the genital tracts of healthy individuals, as compared to STIs that always cause disease.
The Ureaplasma infection can be transferred vertically from an expecting mother to her child, either at the time of the birth, by nosocomial acquisition through transplanted tissues or in the uterus. Ureaplasma infection can occur in the reproductive tract of both men and women and it is often difficult for the medical professional to refer to them as reproductive tract pathogens as they are also found in healthy couples as well as those who are infertile.
These bacteria can lie dormant without causing any disease and showing any symptoms. In addition to that, if the cervical cultures do indicate the presence of Ureaplasma and mycoplasma, it doesn’t in any way indicate sexual misconduct or infidelity by a partner.
While men can experience symptomatic prostatitis or epididymitis, women experience symptoms less frequently but they can range from dysuria to abnormal vaginal discharge. There are several symptoms of the disease or the Ureaplasma infection, which include genital discharge or experiencing excruciating burning pain while urinating. For accurate results, separate samples of the reproductive secretions of both partners should be tested for a live culture, including sperm and cervical mucus.
Please remember that it is impossible to diagnose any urethral infections form the symptoms – a test is necessary. Testing for Ureaplasma is done by PCR although cultures are also available but less reliable.
When the Ureaplasma infection is present in a woman’s cervical section, it can unintentionally be transferred into the uterine cavity through the insertion of a catheter into the uterus at the time of embryo transfer or intrauterine insemination. Many researchers have pointed out that the presence of Mycoplasma and Ureaplasma can play a dominant role in the infertility and miscarriage in a small number of cases, but they have yet to prove how they are able to cause impairment to the reproductive function. Due to this reason alone, many clinics and doctors don’t commonly treat Ureaplasma or mycoplasma.
There are several ways to treat Ureaplasma infection, and the most common is to take antibiotics like a tetracycline or a fluoroquinolone. If the doctor tests you and your partner, and the cervical cultures for Ureaplasma and mycoplasma are positive, then they will likely be treated with antibiotics like doxycycline. Azithromycin also works and Moxifloxacin is used as a last resort.