Trichomoniasis (trick-oh-mo-NEYE-ah-s)

What is Trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis, (also called “trich”) is a common sexually transmitted disease (STD) that affects both men and women. Trichomoniasis is caused by a protozoan parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis and is a cause of vaginal infections in women and urethral infections in men. Trichomoniasis is an STD that affects approximately 5 million people in the US every year. Trichomoniasis is one of the most common, curable causes of vaginal infections in women.

How is Trichomoniasis contracted?

Trichomoniasis is spread through sexual contact, as all other STD’s. Transmission can occur even if a person does not have symptoms of infection. Women contract trichomoniasis from infected male or female partners while men usually contract it only from female partners. Using condoms and/or dental dams provide some protection. Their use is strongly encouraged, but is not 100% safe. Trichomoniasis can also survive on infected objects like sheets, towels, and underwear and could be transmitted by sharing them.

Incubation Period

If symptoms appear, it usually takes from 3 to 28 days for them to develop.

Trichomoniasis Symptoms

Many people with trichomoniasis experience no symptoms. If there are symptoms, the most common trichomoniasis symptoms include:

Trichomoniasis Symptoms in Women

  • Genital itching and/or burning
  • Vaginal or vulval redness
  • Frothy yellow-green vaginal discharge with a strong odor
  • Blood spotting
  • Frequent and/or painful urination
  • Discomfort during intercourse
  • Abdominal pain

A woman might also find that the above symptoms worsen after menstruation and that the symptoms may be confused with an yeast infection. This fact emphasizes the importance of always having an yeast infection diagnosed properly, because it might not be an yeast infection.

Trichomoniasis Symptoms in Men

Men are usually asymptomatic, but if a man has symptoms, they can include:

  • Unusual penile discharge
  • Painful urination
  • Burning sensation after ejaculation
  • Tingling inside the penis.

Testing

A medical provider will take a swab of fluid from a male’s urethra or from a female’s vagina and will examine it under a microscope to see if trichomoniasis is present.

Treatment of Trichomoniasis

Antibiotics – Metronidazole 500mg 2-3 times a day for 7-10 days. It is especially important that both partners are treated at the same time because an infected man, even a man who has never had symptoms or whose symptoms have stopped, can continue to infect a female partner until he has been treated. Anyone being treated for trichomoniasis should avoid sex until they and their sex partners have completed the treatment.

If you are not treated

As mentioned above, trichomoniasis is one of the most common and most curable STD’s. The symptoms are more annoying than they are threatening to your health. The genital inflammation caused by trichomoniasis might however, increase a person’s risk of acquiring HIV infection if s/he is exposed to HIV or might also increase the chances of transmitting HIV infection to a sex partner. In rare case, trichomoniasis in pregnant women may cause a premature rupture of the membranes and early delivery.