Ureaplasma is a tiny strain of bacteria that lives in your urinary and genital tracts. There are two main Ureaplasma species: Ureaplasma urealyticum and Ureaplasma parvum. 

Like its more senior relative, Mycoplasma, Ureaplasma is a type of bacteria known as a Mollicute, characterized by the absence of a cell wall. This means it's pretty hard to study and diagnose Ureaplasma.  

Ureaplasma is a common member of the vaginal microbiome, found in 40-80% of non-symptomatic vaginal microbiomes. It doesn't usually cause symptoms, but some research has linked it to some reproductive health complications. Just like Candida (the fungi behind yeast infections) and Gardnerella (the bacteria most commonly linked to vaginitis), Ureaplasma can exist in your vaginal flora in small doses without causing symptoms or issues. 

That said, researchers are constantly learning more about Ureaplasma, but it’s still pretty misunderstood. Research on female health is sorely lacking — let alone research on Ureaplasma — and remember that just because something is under-researched doesn't mean it's disproven or not real.  

Many women (including in the Evvy community) feel like a Ureaplasma infection is at the root of their symptoms, and those experiences are entirely valid. We know it can be very frustrating to deal with non-stop symptoms only to be told "nothing is wrong with you"! That's why there needs to be a comprehensive understanding of Ureaplasma's role in vaginal and reproductive health.

To help you understand it, we summarized the available (and admittedly limited) scientific literature on Ureaplasma, including what it could mean for your sexual health.

What causes Ureaplasma?

Good question! Experts aren’t fully clued into the causes of Ureaplasma. Research shows that it can be passed during unprotected sex, but it’s not considered a sexually transmitted infection (STI). 

One study found that Ureaplasma was more common in women who had multiple sexual partners, but other research found it in women who had never been sexually active. 

Ureaplasma symptoms 

Ureaplasma is a “commensal” bacteria, meaning it can exist in healthy people without causing symptoms or harming your health.

It’s usually harmless when living in balance with other bacteria in the body because your immune system and vaginal microbiome typically keep it in check. However, Ureaplasma bacteria can become problematic when they’re in the presence of other harmful pathogens.

“Research suggests that Ureaplasma can follow the crowd. If it’s alongside disruptive bacteria (such as Gardnerella, Prevotella, and E.coli), it may act disruptive,” says Evvy’s Senior Scientist, Dr. Krystal Thomas-White.

Ureaplasma is considered an indicator species,” she adds. “That means that if high amounts of Ureaplasma are present in the vaginal microbiome, it’s likely that other disruptive, symptoms-causing bacteria are there as well. Because of this, it’s difficult for researchers to substantially prove that Ureaplasma is the sole cause of symptoms.” 

This also means the symptoms linked to a Ureaplasma infection often overlap with other vaginal infections and can include: 

  • Pain or a burning sensation when you pee
  • Unusual vaginal discharge.
  • Lower abdominal pain.
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Can Ureaplasma cause complications? 

Ureaplasma is a common and usually harmless bacteria for most women. However, some recent studies have suggested that it might be linked to certain more severe health conditions. 

It's important to point out that most of this research is only correlational, meaning it has yet to find a direct cause-and-effect link between Ureaplasma infections and reproductive health complications. But, it might be a vital piece of the puzzle when it comes to understanding the role of Ureaplasma in female sexual health. 


In recent years, there has been debate about the role of the Ureaplasma species U. urealyticum in urinary tract infections. However, to this day, research hasn’t demonstrated a definitive link between the two. According to some studies, treating conditions such as urethritis, cystitis, and upper renal tract infections in women not only helps improve the protective state of the vaginal microbiome but can eliminate Ureaplasma as well.

Preterm birth

Ureaplasma has been found in higher numbers among people who have experienced pregnancy issues such as preterm birth. While science is not sure of its exact role in pregnancy complications just yet, current research suggests that Ureaplasma is unlikely to be the direct cause of premature birth. Scientists are looking into whether Ureaplasma might be a passive bystander or an indicator of a broader underlying condition like bacterial vaginosis (BV), which we know is linked to adverse pregnancy outcomes.

Fertility issues 

Some studies suggest a possible link between Ureaplasma and infertility. However, it's not entirely clear whether Ureaplasma directly causes infertility. One study did find that women with unexplained infertility tend to have U. urealyticum more often and suggested they should be tested for a Ureaplasma infection — but no definitive connection between the two has been established yet.


Like preterm birth and urinary tract symptoms, we don’t have conclusive research to prove Ureaplasma’s role in cervicitis (inflammation of the cervix). Both cervicitis and higher levels of U. urealyticum are often found in women who have a high number of sexual partners. That said, it's unclear whether a Ureaplasma infection is the cause of cervicitis or if there are other factors that contribute to the development of cervicitis, with Ureaplasma simply being present.


Although Ureaplasma is often found alongside BV-associated microbes, research suggests it’s less correlated with BV than Mycoplasma.

How to test for Ureaplasma 

A Ureaplasma test involves collecting a swab sample from your vagina, uterine lining, or urethra or providing a urine sample. There's usually no need to test for Ureaplasma unless you're experiencing symptoms or if treatments for other bacterial infections haven't been effective. Testing for Ureaplasma is typically a process of elimination, not the first course of action.

However, it can be helpful to get a complete picture of all the different types of bacteria and fungi in your vaginal microbiota. By doing so, you and your doctor can determine whether Ureaplasma coexists with harmful pathogens like Gardnerella or protective bacteria like Lactobacillus, which could be influencing its ability to cause symptoms.

With the Evvy vaginal microbiome test, you can easily get an insight into the microbial makeup of your vagina. Our results provide information on each bacteria species, including whether it is beneficial or disruptive, along with relevant research and effective treatments. This way, you can chat with your doctor and develop a care plan that works best for your body, unique microbiome, and specific needs.

Research has shown that Mollicutes (such as Ureaplasma or Mycoplasma) are often present in the vaginal microbiome in very low amounts. If you are interested in testing for Mollicutes, make sure to add our Expanded PCR Panel to your Vaginal Health Test, which is designed to detect these bacteria at lower levels. 

How to treat Ureaplasma 

Ureaplasma treatment guidelines are pretty much nonexistent — surprise, surprise. “There is not yet universal clinical guidance around whether or not Ureaplasma should be treated, and any treatment should be determined on an individual basis,” says Thomas-White. 

Current clinical guidelines recommend treating Ureaplasma infections only in the presence of other pathogens or after other infections and conditions have been ruled out, and symptoms have not gone away. “That said, many members of the vaginal health community feel that Ureaplasma was the cause of their symptoms and that treating Ureaplasma helped resolve their symptoms,” adds Thomas-White. 

“We’re glad that Evvy’s vaginal microbiome test can help people and their doctors identify all microbes that could be related to symptoms, but there needs to be much more research to understand if, how, or why treating Ureaplasma could improve vaginal health.”

If your doctor prescribes treatment for a Ureaplasma infection, it will involve a course of antibiotics — but there's a caveat. Most antibiotics attack a bacterium's cell wall, but Ureaplasma has no cell wall. This means only certain antibiotics called macrolide antibiotics (like azithromycin) can effectively treat Ureaplasma

If I have Ureaplasma does my partner need to be treated?

More research should be done on whether partner testing and treatment is necessary with Ureaplasma. At the time being, partner treatment is only recommended for STIs, but there’s no data to show that it can be helpful in the case of bacterial infections or Ureaplasma. That said, the bacteria can be transmitted via sexual contact, so if you were experiencing symptoms, you might prefer that your partner receive treatment, too — just to be safe rather than sorry. It’s really important, however, that you discuss this with your healthcare provider. 


Is Ureaplasma an STI?

Although it can be transmitted during sex, neither Ureaplasma urealyticum nor Ureaplasma parvum are considered sexually transmitted infections. Research shows that even people who aren't sexually active can have Ureaplasma bacteria present in their bodies.

Is Ureaplasma a big deal?

While some research links Ureaplasma to other health conditions, such as UTIs, premature birth, fertility issues, and cervicitis, it’s unclear whether having Ureaplasma in one's genital tract is cause for concern. Ureaplasma is generally harmless for most people and never causes symptoms or complications.  

What does it mean if you have Ureaplasma?

Ureaplasma is very common, and more than half of women have the bacteria in their urogenital tract. Unless a Ureaplasma infection is the sole cause of unpleasant symptoms, you don’t need to worry about it! 

How long can Ureaplasma go undetected?

Ureaplasma is mostly asymptomatic, so you might not know you have it. But unlike undiagnosed STIs or other vaginal infections, having Ureaplasma isn’t necessarily cause for concern.