Trichomoniasis

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Learn about Trichomoniasis

(microscopic parasite – treatable with medication)

What is Trichomoniasis?

Trichomonas vaginalis is a microscopic parasite found worldwide. Infection with Trichomonas is called trichomoniasis (trick-oh-moe-nye-uh-sis). Trichomoniasis is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases, mainly affecting sexually active women. In North America, it is estimated that more than 8 million new cases are reported yearly.

Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted disease that is spread through penis-to-vagina intercourse or vulva-to-vulva contact with an infected partner. Women can acquire the disease from infected men or women. Men usually contract it only from infected women.

Trichomoniasis affects about 2 to 3 million Americans every year. The vagina is the most common site of infection in women, and the urethra is the most common site of infection in men. Trichomania can survive on infected objects such as sheets and towels, and could possibly be transmitted by sharing those objects.

How is Trichomoniasis Spread?

Trichomoniasis is spread through sexual activity. Infection is more common in women who have had multiple sexual partners.

A common misconception is that infection can be spread by a toilet seat; this isn’t likely, since the parasite cannot live long in the environment or on objects.

What Causes Trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis is caused by infection with a flagellated protozoan. The protozoan is called Trichomonas vaginalis.

What are the signs and symptoms of Trich?

Women:

Signs and symptoms of infection range from having no symptoms (asymptomatic) to very symptomatic. Typical symptoms include foul smelling or frothy green discharge from the vagina, vaginal itching or redness. Other symptoms can include painful sexual intercourse, lower abdominal discomfort, and the urge to urinate.

Men:

Most men with this infection do not have symptoms. When symptoms are present, they most commonly are discharge from the urethra, the urge to urinate, and a burning sensation with urination.

How is Trichomoniasis diagnosed?

Women:

Your health care provider will perform a pelvic exam to collect vaginal samples for examination. Diagnosis is most commonly made by viewing the parasite under a microscope. Culturing for the parasite is the best way to diagnose infection; results may take 3-7 days.

Men:

Diagnosis is made by collecting specimens from the urethra.

No diagnostic test is 100% accurate; mistakes can be made. Your health care provider may order additional testing to confirm the diagnosis.

Can Trichomoniasis be Treated?

Yes. Trichomoniasis can be treated with antibiotics prescribed by your doctor. Persons being treated for trichomoniasis should avoid sex until they and their sex partners complete treatment and have no symptoms.

If you have recently been treated or are being treated for trichomoniasis, you must make sure your sex partner also receives treatment in order to prevent getting infected again. Your sex partners should receive treatment even if they do not have any symptoms.

Can I spread Trich to my baby if I am pregnant?

Yes, but this is rare. Babies born to infected mothers may contract infection during delivery. Infants may develop fever; girls may develop vaginal discharge. Children should be treated if diagnosed. See your health care provider about treatment of trichomoniasis during pregnancy.

How can a child get trichomoniasis?

Infants: If an infant is infected, it is possible that the mother spread infection during childbirth. The mother should be checked for infection.

Young children: Because trichomoniasis is an STD, infection in a young child may indicate sexual abuse. If sexual abuse is suspected, an evaluation for other STDs is recommended.

Teenagers: Because trichomoniasis is an STD, infection in a teenager may indicate sexual activity or sexual abuse. An evaluation for other STDs is recommended.

Can an infection be prevented?

Yes. Follow these guidelines.

* Abstain from sexual intercourse; or,
* Use a latex condom properly, every time you have sexual intercourse, with every partner.
* Limit your sexual partners. The more sex partners you have, the greater your risk of encountering someone who has this or other STDs.
* If you are infected, your sexual partner(s) should be treated. This will prevent you from getting reinfected.

Once infected, am I immune?

No! You can become infected with trichomoniasis again.

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