Safe Sex is Better Sex
What is Trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis is a common and curable sexually transmitted disease caused by a single-celled protozoan parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis.
It is commonly called Trich (pronounced Trick). Trich is transmitted through contact with fluids from the penis or vagina from an infected partner. When the parasite is present in bodily fluids like semen or vaginal secretions and sex occurs, it can be passed from one person to the other.
The parasite lives in the urethra in men and the lower genital tract (cervix, vagina, and urethra) in women.
What are the symptoms?
Only about 30% of people infected develop symptoms. Most men do not have symptoms at all. Some men may have an irritation on the inside of the penis, mild discharge, or slight burning after urination or ejaculation. Some women have no symptoms, but many will experience a malodorous discharge that is frothy and yellow-green.
Infection may cause itching or irritation of the genital area and discomfort during sex and urination. Symptoms may appear 1–4 weeks after exposure.
How is it transmitted?
Trichomoniasis is passed via body fluids. While some STDs are transmitted from skin to skin contact, others are passed via fluid transmission. Trichomoniasis works this way — it is transmitted when bodily fluids from one person are shared with another.
Trichomonas can be passed during any sexual act where bodily fluids are passed from one person to another including vaginal, anal or oral sex. This also includes sharing improperly cleaned sex toys. It is not spread through casual contact or contact with toilet seats, doorknobs, swimming pools, hot tubs, bathtubs or shared clothing.
How is Trichomoniasis diagnosed?
A simple physical exam can not accurately diagnose trichomoniasis. Testing of vaginal, penile or urine specimens is required. The fluid can be examined under a microscope to look for the parasites. There are also laboratory tests that can be ordered by a health care provider. The parasite is harder to detect in men than in women. Male testing is often less accurate. Male partners of women who test positive should be treated regardless of their results.
How is trichomoniasis treated?
Fortunately, trichomoniasis is a curable STD. It is easily treated with antibiotics. Metronidazole is typically given in a single dose. Alcohol should be avoided while taking this medication. All sex partners should be notified, evaluated, tested, and treated.
If not, then one may be reinfected by an untreated partner or the infection spread to future partners. One should abstain from unprotected sexual contact until they and their sex partners have completed their treatment. We recommend a follow-up test to confirm treatment success (a test of cure).
Play it safe — Prevention is key
Prevention is best achieved by the use of latex condoms consistently and correctly. Condoms can greatly reduce the risk of transmission. If you are going to play, then play safe.
Condoms are highly effective at preventing STDs, like trichomoniasis, that are passed via fluid transmission. Water-based lubricants should be used with latex condoms to provide the most protection. Men and women with risk factors such as a new sex partner or multiple sex partners should undergo testing.
Women and men with new partners should be tested for all sexually transmitted diseases to help keep you and your partners safe.
By: Dr. Jeff Livingston