A trichomoniasis infection is a sexually transmitted disease caused by a parasite. Trichomoniasis, also known as trich, is a common yet curable sexually transmitted disease. There are approximately four million people in the United States who are infected, with only one third of them experiencing symptoms. The disease can affect men and women but it is more commonly seen in women.
Causes of Trichomoniasis
Trichomoniasis is caused by the parasite, Trichomoniasis vaginalis, that is passed from person to person during sexual relations. This infection most commonly infects the female lower genital tract, including the vagina, vulva and urethra, and in men it commonly infects the urethra. Trichomoniasis may be transmitted by penis to vagina intercourse or by vulva to vulva contact.
Symptoms of Trichomoniasis
Trichomoniasis often has no symptoms so most people are unaware that they are infected. People who develop symptoms, usually develop them within a few days or weeks after exposure, within approximately 5 to 28 days of after being infected. Symptoms may came and go and may vary in men and women. In women, symptoms may include:
- Vaginal discharge with a strong odor
- Discomfort during intercourse
- Frequent and sometimes painful urination
- Irritation and itching in the genital area
Symptoms in men may include:
- Irritation or itching inside the penis
- Urethral discharge
- Burning with urination or ejaculation
- Frequent urination
Diagnosis of Trichomoniasis
A doctor can diagnose trichomoniasis through a physical examination and a review of symptoms.This condition is sometimes difficult to diagnose in men due to the lack of symptoms, while women may sometimes have small red sores from irritation on the vaginal wall or the cervix. In order to confirm a diagnosis, a sample of the vaginal or urethral discharge is taken and sent to a lab for a definite diagnosis.
Complications of Trichomoniasis
Trichomoniasis does not usually lead to serious complications. It may however, increase several risks for women, including:
- The risk of getting or spreading other sexually transmitted diseases
- The risk of being infected with or spreading HIV
- Delivering a baby prematurely or with low birth weight
It is important to seek proper medical care for trichomoniasis and any other sexually transmitted infection.
Treatment of Trichomoniasis
Trichomoniasis can be cured with antibiotics. In most cases, a doctor will prescribe antibiotics, such as metronidazole or tinidazole, which are taken orally in a single dose. Both partners should be treated even if they do not have any symptoms. Patients are advised to avoid unprotected sexual relations until treatment is completed, even if symptoms disappear before that time. The reinfection rate for trichomoniasis is 20 percent within three months after treatment. Women can be infected repeatedly by men who have never exhibited symptoms. It is therefore important to practice safe sex methods and use condoms during sexual activity.
Prevention of Trichomoniasis
The risk of contracting trichomoniasis may be decreased through the following methods:
- Abstaining from vaginal and anal intercourse
- Using a condom every time during sexual relations
- Engaging in a mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner
Patients infected with trichomoniasis should inform any sex partners of the infection to make sure they are tested and treated. This reduces the risk of re-infection and spreading the disease to a partner.
With treatment, patients can maintain a safe and healthy sex life while also reducing the risk of complications from infection.