Trichomoniasis is caused by a single-celled protozoan called Trichomonas vaginalis . It is transmitted through sex.
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition. Risk factors include:
- Sex: female
- Age: 16 to 35
- Many sexual partners
- Sex without a condom
Trichomoniasis may cause no symptoms, especially in men. Symptoms may include:
- A foul-smelling, greenish-yellow discharge from the vagina (often in large amounts)
- Irritation, itching, and/or soreness in the vulva, perineum, and (less often) the thighs
- In severe cases, inflammation of the vulva and perineum
- Red spots on the vaginal walls and surface of the cervix
- Pregnant women who are infected with trichomoniasis may have premature or low-birth weight babies
- Discharge from the penis (usually in the morning)
- Itching and/or irritation in the urethra and (less often) the thighs
- Pain or discomfort when urinating
- Burning sensation after ejaculation
- Men may have no symptoms, or symptoms may disappear after several weeks; however, even without symptoms, an infected man may continue to infect his sexual partners
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. This may include the following:
- Exam of vaginal walls and cervix
- Microscopic exam of vaginal fluid or discharge
- Pap smear test may indicate Trichomonas , but it is not deliberately used to diagnosis the infection
- Microscopic exam of urethral discharge (collected prior to first void in the morning)
- Urine test
Trichomoniasis is usually treated successfully with antibiotics. It is easily passed back and forth between sexual partners, so both should be treated, even if only one has symptoms.
The most common antibiotic used is metronidazole (Flagyl). The currently recommended treatment options are either a large single dose of oral metronidazole (2 grams), or a smaller dose (500 mg) taken twice daily for seven days. It is important that both partners are treated simultaneously. Failure to treat trichomoniasis can increase the risk of premature birth in pregnant women.
While you are on this medication:
- Avoid sexual intercourse
- Do not drink alcohol
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
STD hotline: 1-800-227-8922
Sex Information and Education Council of Canada
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov .
The Merck Manual of Medical Information . 18th ed. Simon and Schuster, Inc.; 2006.
The Merck Manual of Medical Information . Simon and Schuster, Inc.; 2000.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niaid.nih.gov .
Last reviewed November 2008 by
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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