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Ureaplasma was first discovered in 1954. Its is present in the mouth and genitals of many healthy people, causing no symptoms and requiring no treatment. Such harmless infections in the body are called commensal infections. This means it can exist in healthy people, producing no symptoms and requiring no treatment.

However, Ureaplasma can also be sexually transmitted by unprotected oral or vaginal sex, and produce symptoms in men including urethritis and occasionally epididymitis. In women, Ureaplasma is associated with conditions such as Bacterial Vaginosis, Cervicitis, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease and infertility.

Ureaplasma urealyticum is more likely to be an STI, and associated with Bacterial Vaginosis,  whilst Ureaplasma parvum is more likely to be a commensal.


What are the symptoms of Ureaplasma?

Ureaplasma symptoms in men

  • Painful urination.
  • Wetness at the penile tip.
  • Unusual or foul-smelling discharge.
  • Urethral discomfort.

Ureaplasma symptoms in women

  • Painful urination.
  • Unusual or unpleasant discharge.
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge.
  • Lower abdominal pains.

Can you have Ureaplasma without any symptoms?

Many patients with Ureaplasma can be asymptomatic (showing no symptoms). If Ureaplasma is living in harmony with the body it will produce no symptoms and cause no harm. This is known as a commensal Ureaplasma infection and does not require any further action.

Could the symptoms of Ureaplasma be mistaken for another STI or infection?

Symptoms such as painful urination and unusual discharge can also be symptoms of other STIs including:

It is important to get tested if you are showing symptoms or if you are concerned about your sexual health.

What complications can Ureaplasma lead to if left untreated?

Ureaplasma complications in men

Ureaplasma may play a role in the formation of kidney stones in some people. Kidney stones can cause severe pain in the pelvic area, lower back, abdomen, fever, problems urinating, and cloudy, bloody, or foul-smelling urine.

Those with an antibody deficiency (a rare condition affecting the immune system) can develop serious infections of the lungs, joints and bones as a result of the ureaplasma infection.

Ureaplasma complications in women

Ureaplasma can lead to Bacterial Vaginosis, Cervicitis, and Pelvic Inflammatory Disease in women.

Those with an antibody deficiency (a rare condition affecting the immune system) can develop serious infections of the lungs, joints and bones as a result of the ureaplasma infection.


How can I get Ureaplasma?

Acquired Ureaplasma can be spread through sexual intercourse and enter the body through the vagina or urethra.

Pregnant people with an acquired Ureaplasma infection can also pass the infection to the fetus in the womb, or to the baby during childbirth.

Commensal Ureaplasma lives harmlessly in the throat, and the urinary and reproductive tracts.

What factors can increase the likelihood of getting Ureaplasma?

  • Having unprotected vaginal, oral and anal sex.
  • Having unprotected sex with multiple partners.
  • Sharing, or using, unclean sex toys.

There is no evidence that Ureaplasma can be passed on during anal sex, however, it is good practice to wear a condom when having any type of sex with new partners.

Can I get Ureaplasma even if I wear a condom?

Condoms are up to 98% effective at preventing transmission if they are used correctly. However, some creams and vaginal pessaries, such as thrush treatment can make condoms less effective.

Can you tell who gave me Ureaplasma?

A Ureaplasma test can only tell you if the Ureaplasma species is detected. It can not tell you when, or how, you acquired this infection.

How can I prevent getting Ureaplasma?

Transmission can be avoided by adopting the following measures:

  • Having protected vaginal, oral, and anal sex.
  • Using a condom or femidom with a new partner.
  • Only using sex toys that you know are clean.
  • Getting regularly tested for STI’s, especially if you change partners frequently.
  • Abstaining from sex with your partner if they have completed treatment for Ureaplasma less than 7 days ago, and you have not yet been tested or treated.

Think you might have Ureaplasma?

Tested positive for Ureaplasma?

Next Steps 

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Reviewed by: Aaron Williams

Written By: Shannon Abraham

Last reviewed date: 29 March 2023

Next review due: 29 March 2026

Whilst this content is written and reviewed by sexual health specialists, it is for general guidance only. It is not intended to replace the advice of your clinician.

References & Further Reading