Mycoplasma, Ureaplasma, Gardnerella and Trichomonas. What do you know about these STIs? With over 70% of men and 85% of women having had unsafe sex in the past year [1], it is more important than ever to be aware of lesser-known infections which could be harmful if left untreated.

Sometimes it can be difficult to stay on top of your sexual health. If you are unsure about your current sexual health status or it has been a while since your last check-up, testing for a full range of STIs is important in order to avoid leaving an infection undetected.

This includes any infections which you may not have heard of, such as Mycoplasma, Ureaplasma, Gardnerella or Trichomonas. The ongoing stigma surrounding the discussion of STIs means less prevalent infections are often left unspoken about.

In this blog, we discuss each STI in detail, providing you with the knowledge you need to stay safe.


Mycoplasma is a bacterium that can infect the genitals, urinary tract and rectum. Up to 2% of adults are believed to be infected with the bacterium Mycoplasma genitalium. Mycoplasma is mainly transmitted through unprotected vaginal or anal sex and, in rare cases, oral sex.

Mycoplasma usually presents no symptoms and is therefore often overlooked. When symptoms do appear, they may be different for men and women.

In women, symptoms include: 

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge 
  • Lower pelvic pain 
  • Pain during intercourse 
  • Bleeding after intercourse 
  • Bleeding between menstrual periods.

 In men, symptoms include: 

  • Painful urination 
  • Discharge from the urethra
  • Penis irritation and/or pain.

If left untreated, Mycoplasma can lead to genital inflammation and sexually associated reactive arthritis, as well as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and other pregnancy complications in women.


Ureaplasma is a bacterium that naturally exists in the urinary tract and reproductive tract of men and women. Although it is not always considered an STI, if a colony of Ureaplasma bacteria overgrows it can result in irritation, discomfort and can increase the risk of acquiring other STIs.

The infection is mainly transmitted through unprotected vaginal or anal sex.

Ureaplasma typically shows no symptoms in the early stages of infection. Nevertheless, when symptoms do occur, they may differ for men and women.

In women, symptoms include:

  • Inflammation of the urethra
  • Pain during urination 
  • Unusual, watery vaginal discharge
  • Redness and inflammation around the vagina
  • Unpleasant vaginal odour
  • Lower abdominal pain.

In men, symptoms include:

  • Inflammation of the urethra
  • Pain during urination 
  • Unusual discharge from penis
  • Redness and inflammation around the penis.

Having an untreated Ureaplasma infection can increase the risk of developing other health conditions including kidney stones, premature labour and neonatal respiratory diseases, while also increasing the likelihood of contracting further STIs including HIV.


Gardnerella is a bacterium that infects the female genital tract. It can cause changes in the bacterial balance, which can lead to a condition called bacterial vaginosis (BV). Gardnerella can be spread through sexual contact, most commonly between women and men and between women and women.

Up to 50% of people who have Gardnerella exhibit no symptoms. When symptoms do appear, they differ between men and women.

In women, symptoms include:

  • A watery vaginal discharge (often grey, green or yellow)
  • Itching or burning during urination
  • A “fishy” odour.

In men, symptoms include:

  • Itching or burning during urination
  • Urinary or penile discomfort.       

Having Gardnerella can cause you to be more susceptible to other STIs, including HIV. In women, severe untreated Gardnerella can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), as well as complications during pregnancy.


Trichomonas, also known as Trichomoniasis or “Trich”, is caused by a single-celled organism called Trichomonas vaginalis which can live in semen or vaginal fluid. Trichomonas can be contracted through unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex with an infected person.

A Trichomonas infection often presents no symptoms. If symptoms do develop, they usually occur a month or so after acquiring the infection.

In women, symptoms include:

  • Frothy vaginal discharge 
  • “Fishy” odour 
  • Vaginitis
  • Pain during urination 
  • Pain during sex.

In men, symptoms include:

  • Pain during urination or ejaculation 
  • Increased need to urinate
  • Abnormal, thin white discharge from the penis
  • Soreness/swelling around the head of the penis or foreskin.

Having Trichomonas can increase the likelihood of contracting other STIs, including HIV. For women, an untreated infection during pregnancy increases the risk of premature and/or low birth weight babies.

Take care of your sexual health with Better2Know

If you are concerned about your sexual health, Better2Know’s highly trained sexual health advisors are here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our experienced team can help you choose the right STI test or screen for you. You can contact us at any time through phone or online web chat.


[1] Chemist-4-u: UK STI Statistics 2021

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