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Trichomoniasis is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and fortunately, it’s curable. Also called trich, it affects both men and women. Trich is caused by a parasite called trichomonas vaginalis. It is spread through sexual intercourse, sharing sex toys, and masturbation if fluids are passed between the genitals. Very rarely, it can be spread by wet towels and bathing suits as trichomonas flourish in moist, warm conditions. Some say it can be spread by toilet seats; others say that’s not possible. However, most agree that the parasite can’t survive long on objects and surfaces.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are an estimated 7.4 million new trichomoniasis cases each year in the United States.
While men get trichomoniasis, they hardly ever experience symptoms. They usually don’t know they have it until their female partner finds out. Women with trichomoniasis often have no symptoms. But for many, there are several signs and symptoms.
These include a frothy greenish-yellow vaginal discharge that has a strong, fishy odor. There can also be blood spotting in the discharge. Some women have pain during sexual intercourse, have the urge to frequently urinate or have pain and burning during urination. They can experience vaginal itching and irritation. In rare cases, there can be lower abdominal pain.
The vaginal irritation caused by trichomoniasis can make women more susceptible to getting HIV if exposed to it. In pregnant women, trichomoniasis can cause premature birth or low-birth weight.
Trich is not something to self-diagnose. A doctor needs to perform an exam and lab tests whether or not there are symptoms.
Trichomoniasis can usually be cured with prescription oral antibiotics. Don’t bother with topical creams, gels or ointments as they don’t work.
Sexual partners should be treated together to prevent reinfection and further spread of trichomoniasis. In addition, they should avoid sex until the treatment is over and they have no more symptoms.
Unfortunately, having trichomoniasis once isn’t a guarantee a person won’t get it again.