Ureaplasma urealyticum

Originally Published: April 1, 2011
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Dear Alice,

My wife is planning to have a baby, but before that she just wanted to check her health. During a routine check-up, she was diagnosed with the ureaplasma urealyticum virus which the doctor said could cause infertility. What causes this disease and what should we know about it since we are planning to get pregnant?

Thank you.
Doubtful Husband

Dear Doubtful Husband,

Ureaplasma urealyticum is actually a type of bacterial infection (not viral) of the urogenital tract that is quite common among adults. It does not appear that the infection leads to infertility in either men or women. Ureaplasma urealyticum in pregnant women, however, may be associated with significantly low birth weight, pre–term delivery, and respiratory tract infections in infants. However, information about this association remains somewhat inconclusive because the bacteria is so common and because it is not part of routine tests for pregnant women. Researchers are also not 100 percent certain whether it is simply the presence of the bacteria or the presence of a large amount of the bacteria that may be associated with some of these concerns.

Vaginal bacterial infections are frequently symptomless. If there are symptoms, a pregnancy may mask them because of all the bodily changes a woman experiences during pregnancy.. Some possible indicators may be an unusual odor coming from the vaginal area, vaginal bleeding, or a discharge that is a different color or consistency than is typical for a particular woman's body.

If there is concern about infection, you can request tests as part of pre–natal care. If the bacteria are detected, antibiotics (usually erythromycin) will be prescribed which usually does the trick. Because there is so much unknown still about the exact role of vaginal bacterial infection on early labor and infant health, your best bet is to check in with your health care provider.

May your quest to have a baby be a happy and healthy one!