Written by Advice & Aid Nurse Andrea, RN, BSN
Trichomoniasis (aka “Trich”) is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a protozoan parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. Most people do not experience any symptoms. It is the most common and most curable STI, but is more common in women than men, and older women are more likely to be infected than younger women. In fact, it is estimated over 3.7 million people are infected with Trich, but only 30% will have symptoms.
Trichomoniasis (Trich) is passed from infected person to an uninfected person during sex. The most commonly affected parts of the body are in the lower genital tract. It is usually transmitted in the genital areas, and not in other parts of the body such as hands or mouth. Infected people without symptoms can still pass Trich to others.
Over 70% of those infected with Trichomoniasis (Trich) do not show any symptoms. Those that do have symptoms range from mild irritation to severe inflammation that may appear 5 to 28 days from exposure (infection). Symptoms may also come and go. Men may experience itching or irritation, burning with urination or ejaculation, or even have discharge. Women may have itching, burning, redness or soreness of genitals, discomfort with urination, or discharge with unusual smell that may appear to be clear, white, yellow or green in color. Having sex while infected with Trich can feel unpleasant.
Without treatment, infection may last months or even years. While infected with Trichomoniasis (Trich), the risk of contracting an additional STI or spreading other STIs to a partner is increased. A pregnant woman infected with Trich is more likely to have her baby preterm or to have a baby with low birth weight (less than 5.5 lbs).
Trichomoniasis cannot be diagnosed through symptoms alone. A healthcare provider must perform a physical exam and lab test to confirm the infection. A single dose of a prescription antibiotic (such as metronidazole or tinidazole) is recommended for treatment, and can be taken by pregnant women as well. It is not recommended to drink alcohol within 24 hours of taking the medication due to unpleasant side effects. Trichomoniasis may be contracted again even if treated. Approximately 1 in 5 people are infected again within 3 months after treatment. It is important to wait to have sex after being treated until symptoms resolve, which may take about 1 week. If symptoms return, having a follow up exam and lab test is recommended.
The only complete method to prevent STIs such as Trichomoniasis (Trich) is to abstain from sex, or to be in a monogamous committed relationship. Latex condoms can reduce the risk of transmission of STIs but they do not cover all areas that could infect another person.
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If you (or someone you know) suspects that you might have contracted and STD, you should contact your doctor immediately for an appointment.
However, if you are not ready to talk to a doctor, it could be helpful to discuss your symptoms, concerns and options in a confidential and helpful setting with someone who has answers. Feel free to contacts us at 913.962.0200 to speak with someone who can help you determine your next steps. Our staff is compassionate, knowledgeable and can offer the support and direction that you need.
Additional education articles on sexually transmitted diseases:
The Unfortunate Case Of Bacterial Vaginosis
What You Need To Know Now About HPV
Avoiding an Embarrassing Condition
What You Really Need to Know About Gonorrhea