Have you ever heard of trichomoniasis? If not, read up; it’s the most common sexually transmitted disease (STD) among young sexually active women today. Women are much more likely to contract the disease than men, and around 7.4 million new cases are reported each year.
It is not likely for trichomoniasis to be passed on between men, but women can contract the disease from either a male or a female. The condition is caused by a parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. In men, this parasite infects the urethra and usually doesn’t cause any symptoms. (The only signs might be mild burning and irrtation.) In women, the parasite infects the vagina and is much more dangerous.
There are several signs to look for if you think you’ve been infected with trichomoniasis. The first is an extremely strong odor coming from your vagina, accompanied by frothy yellowish discharge. The second is an itchy feeling around your vagina, which may get worse with tight clothes or bathing. The third is pain during urination.
Symptoms usually begin anywhere from five days to four weeks after exposure. The reason you need to treat trichomoniasis right away is because it greatly increases your risk of contracting HIV during intercourse. It can also cause low birth weight for your baby if you are pregnant.
When you go to the doctor, a pelvic exam will usually be sufficient for diagnosing trichomoniasis. The parasite actually causes the formation of small red sores on your vaginal wall or cervix. There is also a lab test that can diagnose the disease in its early stages.
The good news is that trichomoniasis is treated by a simple single-dose prescription medication. You will need to abstain from sex until your condition improves. While men who are infected may never show symptoms, they can continue to transmit the disease to their sexual partners if they are not treated eventually.
The best way to prevent yourself from getting trichomoniasis is to use condoms or barriers during each and every sexual act. Discuss your partner’s sexual history with him or her before engaging in intercourse, and also ask whether your partner has been tested for STDs.
Of course, the only foolproof method of STD prevention is abstinence. If you have choose to be sexually active, limiting your number of partners can reduce your exposure to a wide range of diseases and infections.
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