What is Trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis is a curable sexually transmitted disease worldwide. Trichomoniasis, sometimes called “trich” (pronounced “trick”), is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) that affects both females and males, but symptoms are more common in females.

Trichomoniasis is caused by the single-celled protozoan parasite, Trichomonas vaginalis. The vagina is the most common site of infection in girls and women, and the urethra is the most common site of infection in boys and men. The parasite is transmitted through sex (penis-to-vagina or vulva-to-vulva contact) with an infected partner. Women can get the disease from infected men or women, but men usually contract it only from infected women.

How common is Trichomoniasis?

Trich is a common, curable STI. Each year, there are about 1 million new cases of trichomoniasis in the United States. While trich affects both women and men, it is more common in women: the highest numbers of cases are in women between ages 16 and 35.

Trich is not spread through normal physical contact such as hugging, kissing, sharing dishes, or sitting on a toilet seat. In addition, it can’t be spread through sexual contact that doesn’t involve the genitals.

What are the signs and symptoms of Trichomoniasis?

Some women may have symptoms which include :

  1. Vaginal discharge which is green, yellow or grey
  2. A bad smelling vaginal
  3. Itching around/ in the vagina
  4. Painful urination
  5. Painful sex
  6. Vaginal spotting/ bleeding
  7. Genital redness/ swelling

Can men have Trichomoniasis?

Most men with trichomoniasis do not show symptoms. But is they do, it usually presents as

  1. itching/ irritation around the urethra
  2. Mild penile discharge
  3. Painful ejaculation/ peeing
  4. Increased urgency to pee

What if you are pregnant?

Trichomoniasis can cause babies to be born early or with low birth weight. If you think you may be pregnant be sure to tell your healthcare provider. Women in the first three months of pregnancy are likely not to get treated for trich because it might harm the baby. You can take medicine after the first three months. Talk to your healthcare provider about your options.

Are there any possible complications of trichomoniasis?

A trich infection can make it easier to contract other STIs. Genital inflammation caused by trichomoniasis can increase your risk of getting HIV, along with other STIs. It also becomes easier for you to spread the virus to someone else when you have trich.

Other conditions such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, and bacterial vaginosis often occur with trich. Untreated infections can result in pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

Complications of PID include:

  • fallopian tube blockage due to scar tissue
  • infertility
  • chronic abdominal or pelvic pain

What to expect for someone with trichomoniasis?

Without treatment, a trich infection can be ongoing. With treatment, trichomoniasis is usually cured within a week.

You can contract trich again after treatment if your partner was not treated or if a new partner has the infection. Reduce your chances of having the infection again by ensuring all of your sexual partners get treatment. Then, wait for the infection to clear before becoming sexually active again. It is recommended that you wait one week after taking your medication before having sex again.

Your symptoms should go away after a week. If your symptoms continue longer, talk to your doctor about getting retested and retreated.

See your doctor for a follow-up test for trich at least three months after your treatment. According to CDC, the reinfection rate for women can be as high as 17 percent in the first three months after treatment. Reinfection is possible even if your partners were treated as well. There are cases of trich being resistant to certain medications.

Next read: Anal Warts – Should you be worried?

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