When it comes to sexually transmitted diseases (STD or STI), most people have at least heard of some of the well-known ones — such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV. However, those are only the tip of the iceberg. There are more than 30 different bacteria and viruses that can be transmitted through sexual contact. And, according to the World Health Organization, more than one million of them are acquired every day.
One of the lesser-known STDs is trichomoniasis. This is a dangerous fact, considering it is also a very common infection. To add insult to injury, most people who have it do not experience any symptoms. What is it? Does it present any signs at all? How is it treated?
What is trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis — also known as trich — is a common sexually transmitted infection that affects approximately 3.7 million people in the United States. It’s more likely to occur to older women, and it can be transmitted from a penis to a vagina — and vice versa — or from vagina to vagina. Unlike other STDs, it is not likely to spread from oral or anal sex.
Trichomoniasis is caused by a parasite, and it could have an incubation period of up to 28 days. The condition may make it easier for women to become infected with other STDs — and if pregnant, it may cause premature birth as well as infecting the baby through the birth canal.
Symptoms of Trichomoniasis
Most people with trichomoniasis do not experience any symptoms. However, approximately 30% of patients do notice changes in their health, including:
- Itching or a burning sensation of the genitals
- Burning after urination
- Burning after ejaculating
- White, yellow, or green vaginal discharge that smells like fish
- Pain during intercourse
- Discharge from the penis
- Genital redness
- Frequent urge to urinate
Diagnosis and Treatment of Trichomoniasis
Trichomoniasis can be diagnosed through a physical exam and a lab test to confirm the doctor’s suspicion of the condition. If you’re experiencing vaginal or penis discharge, your doctor will take a sample of it as well. A urine sample may also be necessary.
Fortunately, the condition can be cured within a week — as long as you obtain treatment through medication. This is crucial, since failing to take medication could lead to other sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia or gonorrhea. Further complications could also lead to pelvic inflammatory disease.
When undergoing treatment, avoid consuming alcohol, as this could interfere with the medication and result in severe nausea and vomiting.
How to Prevent Trichomoniasis
You can protect yourself from trichomoniasis the same way you can protect yourself from other sexually transmitted diseases. This includes:
- Practice safe sex. If having heterosexual vaginal intercourse, wear a condom. If having a homosexual encounter, wear a dental dam.
- Temporarily abstain from sexual intercourse. If you’ve already been diagnosed with trich, wait for the infection to clear before having sex again. If you’re unsure if the infection has been cured, talk to your doctor.
- Schedule follow-up treatment. Trichomoniasis can be resistant to medication, and the reinfection rate is about 17%. If you’ve been infected before, get tested every three months.
Contact Us at OB-GYN Women’s Center
At OB-GYN, we aim to establish trusting relationships with our patients. If you have any questions about your reproductive health, don’t be afraid to ask. We are here to help you.
Contact us to schedule an appointment. We’ll answer all of your questions and strive to procure the best treatment for you.