We know that being pregnant is a joyous time filled with uncertainties, especially if you currently have, or have a history of STDs. That’s why we at SelfCollect are here to help you in whatever way we can. Last month, we looked at how trichomoniasis can affect your baby’s health. This month, we’re going to tackle mycoplasma and ureaplasma.
What is Ureaplasma?
Previously called T-strain Mycoplasma, the bacteria ureaplasma urealyticum and ureaplasma parvum are two different strains of the same infection. They are not commonly differentiated against, though a few recent studies have found the two differ slightly in pathology.
Ureaplasma bacteria is found in the vulva, vagina and cervix. It is extremely common: up to 75% of women who are of reproductive age have it in their system. But it’s okay: having the bacteria does not mean you have an infection! In fact, ureaplasma bacteria occurs naturally. An infection won’t happen unless there is an overgrowth of it.
What is Mycoplasma?
Like ureaplasma, mycoplasma has two different strains. Unlike ureaplasma, both strains have known differences.
Mycoplasma hominis is a sexually transmitted disease that lives in the urinary tract and genitals of about half of all women in the world. It is present in a small number of men as well. If you’re healthy, you have nothing to worry about — mycoplasma hominis rarely causes infections.
It should not harm you, though it can cause newborn babies to develop health problems.
If you have a weakened immune system, it can cause severe urinary tract infections and pelvic inflammatory disease.
Mycoplasma genitalium is found in 10-30% of women with clinical cervicitis (an inflamed cervix). It lives in the vagina, cervix, and endometrium.
The bacteria shares similar symptoms with chlamydia and gonorrhea, such as abnormal vaginal discharge, bleeding between periods, and a burning sensation or pain when urinating. It can also cause urinary and genital tract inflammation in both men and women. Like hominis, it can lead to pelvic inflammation and infertility.
Pregnant with Mycoplasma or Ureaplasma
Both mycoplasma and ureaplasma share similar effects to unborn children and their mothers. Many studies have found correlations between ureaplasma infections, preterm births, infertility, and pregnancy complications, but more research must be conducted for conclusive evidence. Below is what is known about the infections.
Health Complications for Expectant or Hopeful Mothers
A majority of those who have a mycoplasma or ureaplasma infection 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, having a preterm birth, misscarriage, passing on the infection to your child, or infertility.
Mycoplasma hominis can lead to premature births or miscarriage. There are some studies that suggest mycoplasma hominis can also lead to infertility in women.
According to the CDC, it remains unknown whether mycoplasma infections can cause male infertility. More research is being conducted to find conclusive correlations between untreated mycoplasma and ureaplasma infections and infertility.
Ureaplasma 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.
Health Complications in Newborns
The most common form of mycoplasma infections causes respiratory distress in newborn children.
Mycoplasma hominis can also be transferred to the baby during childbirth, often causing fever and infections in your newborn.
Ureaplasma infections can also be found in the premature baby’s lower respiratory tract. The European Respiratory Society International Congress conducted a 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.
How to Get Tested for Mycoplasma and Ureaplasma
You don’t need to go to a doctor’s office to get tested for an infection. You can use SelfCollect’s at home STD tests for fast and accurate results.
If you do test positive for mycoplasma or ureaplasma, abstain from all sexual activity until the infection is gone. Mycoplasma and ureaplasma infections can be treated with antibiotics, but treatment may not always work the first time. A test of cure is always recommended 4-6 weeks after completing treatment to ensure the infection is gone.