Trichomoniasis is a sexually acquired parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. It is the most common sexually transmitted infection, causing around 7.4 million infections in the U.S.A every year. The parasite infects the vagina and the urethra (urine tube) in men.
Symptoms in women are:
• Heavy vaginal discharge that is greenish-yellow or gray
• Offensive vaginal odor
• Pain when urinating
• Genital itching
• Rarely, lower abdominal pain
• Pain during sex
Men don’t usually have any symptoms and may be unaware they are infected, but if they do have symptoms they will have a white discharge from the penis and pain when they urinate or ejaculate.
If you have trichomoniasis and you have sex with a person who is HIV positive, you have an increased likelihood of contracting HIV. If you are pregnant, your baby is at increased risk of being born prematurely and of being low birth weight.
Having the infection can also spoil your sex life and make sex hurt and if it is untreated it can persist long-term (even years).
Diagnosis is carried out by taking swabs so that the discharge can be examined under a microscope. This can confirm the presence of the parasite. Women will be given a pelvic examination as well during which red sores may be seen on the vaginal wall.
Trichomoniasis is treated with one of two antibiotics (metronidazole and tinidazole). You should not drink alcohol within 24 hours of taking the antibiotics as you may experience adverse effects.
You cannot prevent trichomoniasis (except by abstaining from sexual intercourse) but you can reduce the risk by using condoms and having a life-long partner.
Trichomoniasis, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Web. 15 March 2012.
Trichomoniasis - CDC Fact Sheet, CDC. Web. 15 March 2012. http://www.cdc.gov/std/trichomonas/STDFact-Trichomoniasis.htm
Reviewed March 15, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith