Trichomoniasis is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs / STDs). Yet it is also one of the lesser-known. How to recognize the symptoms, what treatments, and what means to avoid contamination?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), trichomoniasis is one the most common STIs in the world, with nearly 150 million new cases per year. However, compared to AIDS, herpes, syphilis, chlamydia, papillomavirus (HPV), or gonorrhea, it remains unknown to a large part of the population.
The transmission of Trichomonas vaginalis occurs only through sexual contact. But it can also be transmitted through joint use of washcloths, hand towels, swimsuits, and other underwear.
The disease is caused by a parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. It is transmitted through vaginal, oral, or anal sexual contact, and it affects both men and women. The infection is often asymptomatic, especially in men (90% of cases). When symptoms occur (between a few days and several months after infection), they present themselves in a similar way in both sexes.
Symptoms in women
In women, trichomoniasis results in:
- abnormal and profuse vaginal discharge, usually described as greenish and smelly
- burning, itching, in the vulva and vagina;
- pain when urinating.
Symptoms in men
In men, trichomoniasis results in:
- redness and pain in the urethral opening;
- redness and pain in the groove at the base of the glans;
- pain when urinating;
- sometimes a discharge from the meatus, the outlet of the urethra.
The consequences are unpleasant but rarely serious, except in pregnant women, with, in particular, a risk of premature delivery and transmission of the infection to the baby during childbirth. However, due to genital inflammation, trichomoniasis greatly increases the risk of getting infected with another STI, especially HIV/AIDS.
Screening of trichomoniasis is very important in order to be able to initiate the appropriate treatment and to avoid transmitting the disease.
This detection of trichomoniasis is based on a swab test (vagina and urethra) in women, and on urine analysis in men. These exams are obvious in the event of symptoms, but when they are absent, the situation becomes more complicated. it is recommended to have the test done in case of an unprotected one-night stand, which will also verify the presence or absence of other STIs; and of course, if a partner reports an infection.
How to treat trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis is treated by taking antibiotics. These treatments are short (usually 1 dose of antibiotics) It is imperative that the partner(s) of the infected person are also treated, even without having declared symptoms. All sexual intercourse should be avoided before the end of treatment and complete recovery. It is prudent to have a complete screening done for other STIs, especially HIV serology.
Treatment of trichomoniasis is done by the administration of antibiotics. As long as symptoms persist or if your usual partner has been not treated as well, it is essential to use a condom, or to abstain from sex. It is not always easy, but it is important: to interrupt the chain of transmission, partners of the last two or three months should be informed of the situation in order to access care.
Betsy is a true science nerd, down to the glasses. Her words, not mine! She works as a nurse specializing in pediatric nursing. She holds a Master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania. She is passionate about all thing pregnancy and baby-related.