UREAPLASMA Urealyticum is a microorganism associated with genital and non-genital tract infections, and though it isn't classified as an STI, but a bacterial infection, it is mainly spread by sexual contact.
Of note, the infection itself is highly contagious and can be linked to the contraction of other STIs, making it important to get a full check-up.
Obstetrician-gynaecologist Dr Jordan Hardie said most patients are asymptomatic; however, some women may develop a vaginal discharge and male patients may report a burning sensation when passing urine.
For pregnant women who contract the ureaplasma infection, Dr Hardie said they are at increased risk for miscarriage, chorioamnionitis (an intra-uterine infection), pre-term birth and having low birthweight infants.
If left untreated, ureaplasma can be associated with infertility, non-specific urethritis, meningitis and pneumonia. If ureaplasma has been left untreated for several months, it can spread to other parts of your body and damage your joints, nerves and muscles.
Dr Hardie said ureaplasma is extremely contagious, and in more extreme cases, you can become infected if you touch an infected person's nose or eye secretions, or if an infected person coughs in your face.
Though often asymptomatic, he said it is important to treat ureaplasma, regardless of whether you have any symptoms, to reduce risk of further health problems such as infertility and meningitis and to prevent psychological issues associated with STIs such as anxiety and stress.
According to Dr Hardie, infection can be prevented by using a condom, minimising the number of your current sexual partners, avoiding sharing sex toys, and doing regular STI screenings.
Dr Hardie said a diagnosis of ureaplasma is made with DNA testing for the microorganism or culture, and it is treated with antibiotics, primarily Doxycycline.
The ObGyn added that even if your symptoms disappear before you finish your course of antibiotics, you should always ensure you take the full course, to prevent the infection from returning.