Trichomoniasis: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention
Trichomoniasis is a type of sexually transmitted disease that is caused by a single-celled parasite. The organism responsible for this infection is known as Trichomonas vaginalis. This infection is curable, but it is still quite common, particularly among young women. In fact, it is the most common sexually transmitted disease among young women in the United States. It is estimated that every year, 7 million new cases of diagnosed in the United States.
This infection can occur both in men and women. When a woman is infected, it leads to a vaginal infection known as vaginitis. If a man is infected, the infection occurs in the urethra, which is a tube within the penis that transports sperm and urine. A man can get trichomoniasis just from a woman, whereas a woman can get infected by men and women with whom they have sexual relations.
Symptoms of Trichomoniasis
The symptoms of trichomoniasis are different in men and women. Usually, men do not have symptoms when they get infected.
Symptoms in Men:
When men get symptoms of trichomoniasis, they usually are mild and include the following:
- Pain while urinating and/or during ejaculation
- Discharge from the penis
- Pain or discomfort in the penis
Symptoms in Women
Generally, women manifest the symptoms within a week or four weeks of being exposed. The symptoms are more severe when compared to men and include the following:
- Coloured discharge which is frothy in nature
- Strong and unpleasant odours from the vagina
- Pain during intercourse and/or while urinating
- Itching and irritation of the vagina and surrounding area
Usually, if the doctor suspects trichomoniasis, he will take a swab from the urethra or vagina and get it analysed in the laboratory for the presence of the organism. In case of women, all have presence of bacteria in their vagina and that is why it is common for doctors to get culture the vaginal sample using a special medium.
In case you go for a regular gynaecological checkup, your doctor may be able to spot the infection. This is because trichomoniasis causes cervical irritation.
If you have the infection, your doctor will inform you after receiving the lab results. Usually, the organism is visible under a microscope and the vaginal pH increases to more than 4.5 because of it.
As this is a parasitic infection, trichomoniasis can easily be cured with medication. A single dose of metronidazole, which is given orally, can do the trick. This drug is the same one that is used to treat bacterial vaginosis in women.
While you are being treated for trichomoniasis, it is important to abstain from sexual intercourse to prevent spread of the infection. Also, you should inform your sex partners, so that they can get treated for it at the same time. This will prevent you from getting re-infected.
Remember, getting treated for trichomoniasis is a must. Just like any other sexually transmitted disease, trichomoniasis increases your chances of contracting HIV. Furthermore, if you have the infection while pregnant, you could deliver a pre-term baby with low body weight.
You can prevent getting infected with trichomoniasis by taking a few precautionary measures. Make sure you use a condom during sexual intercourse. If you or your partner is prone to trichomoniasis, this is a must.
Women, who are in a relationship with other women, should use a barrier while have vulva to vulva contact. It also is important to know that the parasite can be spread through sex toys as well as fingers. Using the right condom and wearing gloves during sex can prevent women from trichomoniasis.