This is a bacterial infection that affects about 30-70% of sexually active men and women. It is not been classified as standard sexually transmitted infection because it is very common in the population and most people with the infection do not show any symptom or sign of it.
We call it sexually transmittable infection. In contrast to the classic STIs, such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea, which are bacteria that should not be found in the body. However, the bacteria can cause similar complications, such as pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility just like chlamydia and gonorrhoea.
Ureaplasma is spreaded by transmission of an infectious agent from an infected person to another, through saliva, blood, or commonly sexual contacts. This infection is extremely contagious, is most often spread though unprotected sexual contact including oral, vaginal and anal contacts. It is most likely to occur amongst those with multiple sexual partners or had came in contact with such as person.
Ureaplasma urealyticum infection often shows no symptoms and most people are not aware that they are infected.
It is recommended that it should be tested at least once a year.
In men, the symptoms can be very mild, such slight clear discharge, urethral irritation, redness at tip of urethra. However, it may also present with more severe symptoms such as lower abdominal pains, painful urination, persistent discharge, bleeding in the urethra and symptoms of prostatitis such as increase urination, weaker urine flow, reduced bladder tolerance or even erectile dysfunction and painful ejaculation. Other complications in male may include chronic prostatitis, epididymitis (an inflammation of the testicles) and chorioamnionitis (redness and inflammation around the genitals, discharge and painful urination).
In female, the symptoms are often mimic usual vaginal discharge. However, women who has been diagnosed with “recurrent thrush” or candida infection, should get tested for ureaplasma as candida should be easily treated unless there is predisposed diseases such as diabetes. Women with fertility problem should also get tested for ureaplasma.
Ureaplasma can be tested with a urine sample in both male and female.
The first part of urine is used. However, the bacterium is easier to be detected in female compare to in male. Most women with ureaplasma infection will have a positive result.
However, in male, the bacterium can “hide” in the prostate or in the epididymis. A semen sample is often used to detect its presence if there is prostate symptoms rather than urethral symptoms.
Ureaplasma urealyticum DNA test is the most sensitive test for ureaplasma. Various specimens can be used such as urine, vaginal, rectal or oral swabs. Some times ureaplasma culture is used to determine the presence of infection in the prostate or after treatment failure, to determine the antibiotics sensitivity pattern.
Ureaplasma can be treated with antibiotics.
Antibiotics resistance is not uncommon with this infection. The duration of treatment depends on the site of infection. Usually urethral and vaginal infection requires 7-10 days of treatment.
However, prostate infection may take upto 4 weeks, sometimes even longer to clear the infection. Commonly used antibiotics are Azithromycin, doxycycline and Ofloxacin.