What Is Ureaplasma?


Quick Answer

Ureaplasma is a type of small free-living bacteria commonly found in the vagina, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. The presence of smaller levels of ureaplasma is normal, but high levels of the bacteria can cause discomfort.

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Full Answer

Although ureaplasma is a bacteria, it behaves like a virus in that it can live in cultures outside of cells, states the Cleveland Clinic. Unlike viruses, ureaplasma can be treated with antibiotics.

High levels of ureaplasma can cause discharge, burning, frequent urination, and pain or discomfort, according to the Cleveland Clinic. It is also possible for ureaplasma to cause no noticeable symptoms. Ureaplasma can also cause complications in pregnant women. It can be transmitted by sexual contact, but transmission can occur by means other than sexual intercourse.

It can be difficult to determine if treatment for ureaplasma is required because the diagnosis requires special tests with which most general practitioners are not familiar. A full course of antibiotics is often all that is required to treat ureaplasma. Most patients are prescribed either doxycycline or erythromycin, notes Cleveland Clinic. If the patient is sexually active, her partner may also need to be treated with this medication, and sexual activity must cease during the course of treatment. Treatment may take several weeks in some cases.

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