Trichomoniasis is a common sexually transmitted disease (STD), caused by Trichomonas vaginalis, a protozoan parasite. The symptoms of the STD like trichomoniasis discharge can vary per individual, and it is also possible that someone infected does not show any symptoms all.
Trichomoniasis is the most common curable STD. In the US, around 3.7 million individuals are infected with the disease. However, only about 30% develop any symptoms of the disease.
Women are most commonly at risk of trichomoniasis, although men may also contract it. Research shows that older women, age 40 and older, are more likely to get infected than younger women.
Symptoms of Trichomoniasis
While trichomoniasis is curable, it can be difficult to diagnose. Around 70% of infected persons do not show signs and symptoms. In those that do show symptoms, indications can range from mild to severe irritation and inflammation.
People who develop symptoms exhibit these within five to 28 days after being infected. Others do not develop symptoms until much later. And, what’s more, symptoms can come and go. If you think that you require trichomoniasis treatment, avoid sexual relations until you consult a doctor.
Men with trichomoniasis may experience the following:
- Itching or irritation in the penis
- Burning feeling after urination
- Burning feeling after ejaculation
- Trichomoniasis discharge or abnormal discharge from the penis
Women with trichomoniasis may experience:
- Itching, burning, redness, or soreness of the genitals
- Discomfort when urinating
- Trichomoniasis discharge: A change or abnormality of vaginal discharge (i.e., thin, frothy discharge or increased volume). Vaginal discharge can vary from being clear, white, yellowish, or greenish.
- Vaginal discharge may have an unusual fishy odor
Trichomoniasis can cause unpleasant sensations when engaging in sexual intercourse. Without treatment, the infection can last for months or years.
How are People Infected with Trichomoniasis?
During sexual activity, Trichomonas vaginalis is transmitted from the infected person to the uninfected individual.
In women, the lower genital tract (the vulva, vagina, cervix, or urethra) becomes infected. In men, the urethra is the most commonly affected area. Although uncommon, it is still possible for the parasite to affect other body parts, such as the hands, mouth, and anus.
Currently, it is not yet known why some infected persons are asymptomatic. But it is likely dependent on factors such as one’s age and general state of health. Asymptomatic persons are still able to pass on the infection to others, further emphasizing the need for trichomoniasis treatment.
Complications and Diagnosis
Because some people are asymptomatic, it may be difficult to diagnose trichomoniasis. Its symptoms are similar to other sexually transmitted infections and diseases.
If you suspect that you are infected and require trichomoniasis treatment, a healthcare professional will examine your genital area.
In men, the doctor will examine the penis for any inflammation or trichomoniasis discharge. Urine samples may also be collected.
After the physical examination, the doctor may collect a sample by swabbing the vagina or penis. This sample will be analyzed under a microscope or in a clinic to determine infection.
If it is suspected that you are infected, you may be given instructions to start a course of trichomoniasis treatment. This ensures that the infection is treated immediately, and the risk of passing it on to others is reduced.
What are the Complications of Trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis, although easily treatable, must not be taken lightly. If the disease is not addressed immediately, trichomoniasis can increase the risk of contracting or spreading other sexually transmitted infections. For example, trichomoniasis can cause genital inflammation, which makes a person more susceptible to HIV.
It also makes a woman susceptible to having pelvic inflammatory disease, an infection of the upper reproductive organs.
How Does Trichomoniasis Affect Pregnant Women?
Pregnant women with trichomoniasis may be at risk of having their babies born too early (preterm delivery). These babies are more likely to have a low birth weight (less than 5.5 pounds).
Treatment and Prevention
Trichomoniasis can be treated with metronidazole or tinidazole. Both medications are pills that are taken orally. Metronidazole may be taken by pregnant women as they pose a low risk to the baby. But before taking any medication, always consult your doctor.
Trichomoniasis treatment allows symptoms to disappear, which usually occurs in about a week. Get tested after two weeks to 3 months after completion of treatment to make sure you have not been reinfected.
Can a Person Get Reinfected?
People who have been treated for trichomoniasis can get infected again. In fact, around 20% of those who are treated for trichomoniasis get infected again within three months after receiving treatment. To avoid getting a repeat infection, it is recommended that all past sex partners be tested, diagnosed, and be put on a treatment plan immediately.
It is of great importance that one’s current sexual partner and any other recent partners are also tested and treated. Healthcare providers can discuss whom among your sexual partners may be most at risk and needs to be tested. If you are uncomfortable contacting partners, the clinic can do it for you. This is called partner notification, and the clinic will not reveal your identity.
How Can Trichomoniasis Be Prevented?
The best way to avoid contracting any STD is to avoid vaginal, oral, and anal sex, and ensure that your partner or partners are not carriers of the disease. If you are sexually active, wearing protection such as latex condoms can lower chances of getting the disease. And if you suspect you have an STD like trichomoniasis, see a doctor immediately for trichomoniasis treatment.
If you have a new sexual partner, it is encouraged that you discuss the potential risk of STDs before having sex.
Learn more about STDs here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.