What IS Mycoplasma and Ureaplasma?! (And do I care??)
The easy answer is....it depends. The truth is that if you are not having any symptoms of these bacteria then there is no REAL reason to care. But if you start getting symptoms that can’t be explained then you will definitely care!
Never heard of Mycoplasma and Ureaplasma?
These bacteria are some of the smallest living organisms that are capable of living in your body. Remember that our bodies are full of different bacteria that can cause no problems at all for us. Mycoplasma and Ureaplasma are no exception: they can be a normal part of your body. But they can be tricky because they can cause no symptoms for some women and frustrating symptoms in others. Honestly, gynecologists have been confused by these organisms because their correlation with vaginal symptoms is something that is relatively new to medicine.
These bacteria are infamous for potentially causing infections in other parts of your body such as pneumonia of the lungs. But the urogenital tract???!!! (that’s the bladder and the vagina)
So what are some of these frustrating symptoms that these bacteria can cause?
These are symptoms are fairly broad and there are other problems that can cause these exact same symptoms. A urinary tract infection, yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis, chlamydia, gonorrhea or trichomonas can all cause these symptoms too.
It isn’t unusual for a patient to self diagnose themselves with one of these other infections and call the office asking for a prescription to treat. You may even see a doctor and your symptoms seem to point to one of these other diagnoses. You start a course of antibiotics or antifungal and you think you are being treated appropriately. But when the symptoms don’t go away then Mycoplasma and Ureaplasma should be considered.
How can I be tested?
As I said before these are tricky and very small bacteria. They can not be seen under a microscope. Therefore, a vaginal swab is necessary to send out to a lab. And don’t expect results too soon. I tell my patients to wait at least a week for a result to return!
How did I get it?
This will probably be one of your first questions when I tell you that all your vaginal symptoms are due to one of these (OR both!) bacteria.
These bacteria are considered a normal part of the human body which is why many people can have these bacteria present and have no symptoms. Most commonly a person will develop symptoms as a result of sexual activity. Symptoms are most noted in women (and men) who are sexually active. Therefore, this can be considered a sexually transmitted disease when symptoms are present.
Can I get rid of it?
Yes! Antibiotics are the treatment and very effective. There is a one day dose of antibiotics (Azithromycin) but some women need a longer course of antibiotics and Doxycycline and Levaquin are both options. Your gynecologist can suggest the best antibiotic depending on which specific bacteria you test positive for.
Does my partner need to be treated?
Because this bacteria exists normally in the body then a partner does not necessarily need to be treated. However, if a certain Mycoplasma is present (Mycoplasma Genitalium) then the partner is usually treated as this type of bacteria is more susceptible to sexual transmission and symptoms.
If a patient continues with symptoms despite treatment then it is reasonable to treat the partner as well to ensure resolution of symptoms.
Does this mean my partner cheated?
Before you do something drastic, remember what I said before.... this bacteria is tricky! A diagnosis of Mycoplasma or Ureaplasma does not confirm infidelity. However, I would recommend a full STD panel just to ensure a full evaluation of other infections to keep you healthy.
So, that is the basic ladies! Small bacteria that are capable of causing some really annoying symptoms. Just something to think about when your symptoms of a UTI or a yeast infection just won’t go away despite treatment!