Commonly known as trich, this sexually transmitted infection is rather common. The statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that nearly 4 million Americans are infected with the disease.
In fact, trichomoniasis is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases. In the same time, the problem is very few people ever experience symptoms. Because of that, some people might not even know they are infected, which makes the treatment for the STD that much more challenging and difficult.
What are the symptoms of trichomoniasis
As mentioned previously, nearly two thirds of the people with the disease experience no symptoms at all. The CDC data shows that only 30% of people with trich ever manifest any symptoms. Another study showed that 85% of women affected with trich manifested no symptoms at all.
Symptoms occur five to 28 days after the initial infection. For some people, it takes even longer for the first symptoms to appear. What are the symptoms of the disease? Among women, the most common symptoms include:
- Vaginal discharge which can be white, yellow, green, or gray in color
- Vaginal discharge that is usually frothy with an unpleasant smell
- Genital redness
- Genital swelling
- Vaginal spotting or bleeding
- Genital burning or itching sensation
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Pain during urination
- Pain during sexual intercourse
Trich can also affect men, and they experience the following symptoms:
- Discharge from the urethra
- Urge to urinate frequently
- Burning sensation during urination or after ejaculation
What causes trichomoniasis?
The disease is caused by a one-celled protozoan organism called “trichomonas vaginalis”. This protozoan organism travels from one person to another through genital contact during sex.
Trich cannot be spread through normal physical contact like hugging, kissing, sitting on the same toilet seat, or sharing dishes. Sexual contact that doesn’t involve the genitals also cannot cause trich.
In women, the organism causes an infection in the vagina, urethra, or both. In men, the infection occurs only in the urethra. Once the infection begins, you can easily spread it from one person to another through unprotected genital contact.
According to statistics, one million new cases of trich are diagnosed on a yearly basis. That is according to the American Sexual Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The disease is more common in women than in men. Additionally, older women are more prone to getting the infection. The risk factors for trich include:
- Multiple sexual partners
- History of other sexually transmitted diseases
- Sex without a condom
- Previous trich infections
How can you diagnose trich?
We mentioned previously that in many cases, people with trich manifest no symptoms at all. And when they manifest, the symptoms are very similar to those of other sexually transmitted diseases. The symptoms of trich cannot be diagnosed alone. If you suspect in trichomoniasis, scheduled a physical exam and a laboratory test with your doctor. There are a number of tests that can help you diagnose trich, including:
- Antigen tests
- Tests that look for trichomonas DNA
- Examining samples of vaginal fluid for women or urethral discharge for men under a miscroscope
- Cell cultures
What is the treatment?
The good news about trich is you can easily treat it. There are a number of home remedies that help, and in some cases, a doctor might prescribe you antibiotics as well. There are a couple of antibiotics that can cure trich, but the important thing is not to drink alcohol for the first 72 hours after taking the antibiotics.
If you are having unprotected sex, make sure your sexual partner is also properly tested and takes the medication as well. If your partner does not have any symptoms, that doesn’t mean he/she doesn’t have the infection. Avoid sexual contact for one week after all partners have been treated.
Without treatment, a trich infection can be ongoing, while treatment can help you solve the issue within a week. If you receive the treatment, but your partner does not, the infection can comeback. Make sure all sexual partners get the treatment, and then wait for the infection to clear before becoming sexually active again.
Possible complications of a trich infection are higher risk of other STDs. Genital inflammation caused by trichomoniasis can increase the risk of HIV, for example. During pregnancy, trich can cause unique complications in pregnant women. Trich can increase the risk for delivering prematurely or delivering a baby with low birth weight. In rare cases, the infection can be transmitted to the baby during delivery.
Can you prevent trich?
The only way to prevent trich is by abstaining from all sexual activity. Of course, when you practice sex, same as with other STDs, it is recommended that you use a latex condom during sexual intercourse. This will reduce the chances of contracting trich and any other STD.
Published by Samantha Brown