Ureaplasma is a bacteria that is commonly found in the urinary or genital tract. It needs a human or animal host to survive because it is parasitic. Ureaplasma bacteria are part of the bacterial population in the body, and they live in balance, without causing a problem, in most cases. Sometimes, however, they can increase in population, causing infection and other health problems.
Ureaplasma belongs to a class of bacteria known as Mycoplasma, this species are the smallest known organisms of their type that can duplicate themselves to reproduce.
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Ureaplasma does not have a cell wall, making it resistant to some common antibiotics like penicillin. However, it can be treated with others.
Ureaplasma has been linked to diseases that affect the male and female reproductive systems. Most people are oblivious that they have ureaplasma in their bodies. It can infect newborns if the mother passes the bacteria to the infant during pregnancy.
Transmission of Ureaplasma
Ureaplasma can be transmitted during sexual contact. According to research, vaginal infections with ureaplasma were higher among women who kept multiple sexual partners. According to another study, this bacteria may also be found in women who have never been sexually active. Therefore, the cause of Ureaplasma presence may not be known in some cases.
Symptoms of Ureaplasma
Ureaplasma does not cause symptoms if it is living in balance with other bacteria. A healthy immune system can usually keep the bacteria in check, preventing them from causing infection. However, if the population of ureaplasma increases, it may lead to some health problems which may cause symptoms. The following symptoms are possible signs of Ureaplasma infection and should be checked by a doctor.
a. Trouble getting pregnant
Ureaplasma bacteria have been discovered in both men and women with infertility issues. The bacteria may affect the number of sperm and their ability to move in men. In women, it may cause an infection that makes it hard for her to conceive.
Ureaplasma known as Ureaplasma urealyticum is discovered more in women with unexplained infertility. As a result, the authors suggest that women with vague infertility should be tested for the bacteria.
b. Pain, discharge, and itching of the genital area
Ureaplasma infection may cause some conditions that lead to pain and discomfort in the genital area. They include:
- Urethritis: This is an inflammationof the urethra or tube that carries urine out of the body. Urethritis can cause severe pain or burning while passing out urine, itching around the urethra, and a strange or foul-smelling discharge.
- Bacterial vaginosis (BV): This is an infection in the vagina. BV can cause foul-smelling or unusual vaginal discharge, burning during urination, and itching in and around the vagina.
Ureaplasma has been linked to several different health problems that can cause pain in the pelvic, abdominal, or groin area. These include:
- Endometriosis: This is an inflammation of the lining of the womb that can cause pelvic pain, abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge, and fever. Endometriosis can be caused by different bacteria, but Ureaplasma infection has been linked to the condition in the past.
- Prostatitis: Prostatitis (Inflammation of the prostate gland), may cause pain during urination, cloudy or bloody urine, difficulty urinating, pain in the genital area, and an urgent need to urinate.
- Kidney stones: Ureaplasma may cause the formation of kidney stones in some people. Kidney stones can cause fever, painful urination, severe pain in the pelvic area, lower back, abdomen, and cloudy, bloody, or foul-smelling urine.
Ureaplasma in pregnant women and newborns
Premature babies, especially those that weigh 1,000 grams (about 2.2 pounds) or less, may be at a higher risk of ureaplasma infection. Newborns may develop meningitis, lung injury, and pneumonia.
Also, a fetus can become infected with ureaplasma before birth, which can lead to:
- premature birth
- premature rupture of membranes
Pregnant women can be treated for ureaplasma infections, which greatly reduces the chance of these complications.
How is Ureaplasma Diagnosed?
Ureaplasma can be diagnosed by a doctor using a biopsy or swab, which is tested in a lab. The biopsy or swab may be taken from the vagina, uterine lining, urethra, or urine sample.
Ureaplams may be very difficult to detect under a microscope because of its small size. Identifying Ureaplasma requires specialized lab tests and equipment.
To treat ureaplasma, antibiotic is required for infections. However, only certain antibiotics are effective against these bacteria.
The antibiotic chosen depends upon the health problem being addressed, and who is being treated. Certain antibiotics are not safe for pregnant women or newborns. Urinary tract or genital infections caused by ureaplasma may be treated with azithromycin or doxycycline. If the bacteria do not respond to these drugs, erythromycin or fluoroquinolones may be required. Newborns with lung problems caused by ureaplasma may be treated with erythromycin.
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Pregnant women who have premature rupture of membranes may be treated with macrolide antibiotics. These include clarithromycin, azithromycin, and erythromycin. Treatment with an antibiotic may reduce the risk of Ureaplasma infection.
How do you prevent Ureaplasma?
Abstaining from sexual contact can prevent transmission of ureaplasma. But, some people may have Ureaplasma colonization without having sex.
Ureaplasma is considered an opportunistic bacteria, because it is found in both healthy people and those with certain diseases. Endeavour to get regular checkups with your doctor.