When you think of a sexually transmitted disease, the words that most likely pop into your mind include chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV or herpes. If you’re especially well educated on the subject, you might recall human papillomavirus or trichomoniasis, and maybe syphilis, which is an ancient disease still very much with us today.
It is unlikely, however, that you will pull up ureaplasma among your answers, which is unfortunate given its starring role in infertility and other severe health consequences. Partly this is because the “disease” actually results from organisms that are already present in our bodies when healthy, and partly because the effects of the disease weren’t discovered until much later than other STDs.
In order to stay safe from ureaplasma, it’s critical you know what it is, how to recognize it and what to do if you suspect you may have contracted it.
What Is Ureaplasma?
“Ureaplasma is a group of tiny bacteria that inhabit the respiratory and urogenital (urinary and reproductive) tract,” explains Healthline. “They are some of the smallest free-living organisms in the world. They’re so tiny that they can’t be seen through a microscope. Ureaplasma is often a part of the human microbiome, which consists of trillions of tiny cells that live in and on the human body. These tiny organisms help you digest food, fight infections, and maintain reproductive health.” (1)
However, they can grow out of hand. As with so much else in the body, it’s all about balance. When ureaplasma grow in an uncontrolled manner, they can hijack other bodily processes, cause damage and turn transmittable – meaning you can pass on an infection to someone else. While researchers aren’t sure what causes uncontrolled growth, there are a number of possible explanations, including changes in diet or climate, use of certain medications, unsanitary conditions or transmission from someone else.
While there has been some debate about whether or not to label this an STD, most scientists and members of the medical community agree that, because it can pass from person to person during sexual acts, it counts.
How Is Ureaplasma Transmitted?
Ureaplasma can pass between people during vaginal intercourse, oral sex and anal sex, as well as touching or rubbing. It cannot pass through kissing, clothing and sheets, door handles, toilet seats or other inanimate objects.
However, because it exists in everyone, it’s not uncommon for the bacteria to grow out of balance, reaching disease proportions – and therefore becoming potentially harmful. That means you need to be aware of its signs and symptoms, so you can react early if you are exposed.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Ureaplasma?
The symptoms of this disease, when present at all, share some commonalities between men and women. In its presence, both may experience pain during urination, a burning sensation and unusual discharge from the urethra. This is a sign of urethritis, which is an inflammation of the urethra, or the tube through which urine passes as it exits the body. In the case of men, this is also the tube through which they ejaculate, after which they may experience the same symptoms.
Women may also develop bacterial vaginitis in response to ureaplasma, which may result in a watery vaginal discharge and an unpleasant odor.
The consequences of ureaplasma can be severe, including (2):
- Kidney stones
- Respiratory diseases in newborns born to mothers with ureaplasma infections
- Infection of fetuses in utero
- Low birth weight
- Preterm labor
Other studies have demonstrated that uncontrolled ureaplasma infections may lead to higher rates of HIV infection as well as arthritis. (3) It may also lead to infertility in both men and women, with urethritis being an unfortunately common cause of fertility problems and sterility, especially in men.
Why Test for Ureaplasma?
Avoiding these consequences is of utmost importance. In addition to avoiding the above issues, testing allows you to resolve any disease you may have acquired quickly. That makes the chances of it progressing less likely, and reduces the chances of passing it on to someone else.
Not only does this protect you, it protects others, who may not have access to resources and medication that can help cure the disease. Plus, only when you test can you establish that the disease is present, and therefore get a cure. The good news is, treatment exists, though it is not as simple as that of some other STDs.
According to Medical News Today, “Antibiotic treatment is needed for infections of Ureaplasma. Only certain antibiotics are effective against these bacteria, however.” Not all of these are safe for newborns or pregnant women, and other standard medications – such as penicillin – are ineffective because of this bacteria’s lack of cell wall. “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 used.” (4)
When taking antibiotics, it’s critical to finish the entire course. Otherwise, if you only take some of the antibiotics until you feel better, you risk creating antibiotic resistance. Effectively, you are inoculating them against the antibiotic, allowing them to develop a resistance by “getting sick” from it without dying off. That’s why you should never toss antibiotics down the toilet or throw them away before finishing the complete course.
Now that you know you need to test, it’s time to make it a priority. Many people resist this part, however, due to the inconvenience of going to the doctor as well as the embarrassment associated with getting tested. Fortunately, there’s another way.
How Can You Test at Home?
Gone are the days where you have to schedule an appointment with a doctor, drive to a clinic, fill out a raft of paperwork, dole out insurance information and generally make A Big Thing out of getting tested. Believe it or not, you can now test for a range of STDs within the comfort and privacy of your own home, only making an appointment with a physician if you test positive. Doesn’t that sound like a better way of life?
So, how does it work? Pretty simple, actually:
- Order your iDNA home test kit online. It will arrive at your home in an unmarked box for ultimate description.
- Follow the instructions to collect your sample and package it up. The process is straightforward, but you’re welcome to get in touch with our team if you have any questions.
- Mail it to our labs, where we work 24/7 to process results quickly, with extreme accuracy.
- Register online, then track the progress of your sample through your account.
- Make an appointment with a doctor ONLY if you get a positive result.
- Continue to test whenever you switch partners, have sex with multiple partners, or once a year until you become monogamous.
See? It couldn’t be any easier, and it’s an amazing way to stay on top of your sexual health at prices you can afford. Don’t bury your head in the sand any longer; get the information you need to protect your health and that of others today.
(1) Ureaplasma. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/ureaplasma
(2) Ureaplasma. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/ureaplasma
(3) Ureaplasma: Current Perspectives. (2015). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25865969
(4) What Is Ureaplasma? (2018). Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321636.php