What is Trichomoniasis
Quite literally, Trichomoniasis (Trih-co-ma-ni-ay-sis) is a term for a vaginal infection. The CDC estimates that roughly 7.4 million new cases of this infection occur yearly. Trichomoniasis is caused by a small single-celled parasite that can infect both women and men. While women can be infected by other women or by men, it's only possible for a man to be infected by a woman.
How is Trichomoniasis Transmitted or Spread?
The most common method of transmission for Trichomoniasis is sexual. It's even possible for a man to catch this infection from simply contacting the vulva, or more recognizably the genital region outside of the vagina, of a woman.
Generally, this disease causes genital inflammation. It may cause low birth weight in the babies of mothers infected by Trichomoniasis and also leaves the sufferer more susceptible to a possible HIV infection. It may even make it more likely for an HIV-infected carrier to pass HIV as well as Trichomoniasis to their partners.
Trichomoniasis Symptoms in Men:
For men, the most common symptoms include an irritation of the urethra, some discharge, and a painful burning sensation after urinating or ejaculation.
Trichomoniasis Symptoms in Women:
Women with this disease may have a “frothy” vaginal discharge with a yellow/green cast and a strong odor, some discomfort when urinating or being involved in sexual intercourse, and itchiness of the genital area. It's also possible for women to exhibit pain in the lower abdomen that cannot be explained by menstrual cramps, but fairly rare. The incubation period is between five and twenty-eight days from exposure to the parasite.
How to Prevent Trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis is easily preventable with the use of a condom. It's also recommended that you and your partner get regular testing. If you ever see signs of inflammation or irritation on your genitals or feel unusual itching or discomfort, it's always a good idea to abstain and visit a doctor.
Abstinence is the best way to prevent the transmission of any sexually transmitted disease. If you are sexually active, condoms are a helpful preventative measure if used correctly each time. The risk of infection for any STD, including Trichomoniasis, is significantly lowered if you both you and your partner have been tested, and are only having sex with each other. People who engage in risky sexual behavior, or have sex with people they don't know very well, are at a much greater risk for contracting sexually transmitted diseases. People who regularly use drugs and alcohol are at a higher risk for contracting sexually transmitted diseases, including Trichomoniasis, because they are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior.
Please read more about STD transmission and prevention here.
How to Treat or Cure Trichomoniasis?
Fortunately, Trichomoniasis is not only a very common STD, it's very treatable as well. Generally a single dose of medications such as Metronidazole and Tinidazole can clear the infection up. Sometimes, men don't even need any medical intervention, the parasite will go away on its own. However, it's important to note that a man who doesn't show symptoms can still be carrying the parasite and will continue to share the infection until he's treated.
What should I expect from my doctor?
Trichomoniasis in Women: Your doctor may want to perform a pelvic exam. He or she will be looking for sores on the walls of the vagina or on the cervix. Presence of these sores is a good indicator of Trichomoniasis. Generally, your doctor will want to perform a laboratory test to confirm the diagnosis.
Trichomoniasis in Men: It's more difficult to diagnose Trichomoniasis in men. Generally your doctor may want to take a swab from the urethra, which will allow laboratory testing to confirm a suspected case of Trichomoniasis, but a physical exam will rarely wield strong evidence for the diagnosis on its own.