Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted disease that is passed on to a partner during close sexual contact. It is caused by a protozoan parasite called trichomoniasis vaginalis. Also called Trich, it remains invisible to the human eye. The disease is curable through medication and treatment of each infected partner. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 7.4 million new cases occur each year.
For women, their symptoms may differ significantly from men. They may first notice an intense itching and reddening of the skin around the vagina. For severe infections, women may experience a yellowish-green, frothy discharge from their vagina. A strong foul odor may also accompany the discharge. Trichomoniasis could also leave the female with strong discomfort during sexual intercourse such as pain and lower abdominal pain. In men, some may not experience any symptoms at all. Others may experience a slight discharge or a burning after ejaculating or urinating. Most of these symptoms occur between 5 and 28 days after exposure to the parasite.
There are some complications that can evolve. Women that get pregnant may run the risk of having a baby born with a low birth weight, under 5.5 pounds. Pregnant women also put themselves at risk for premature delivery. Because there is increased genital inflammation, especially in women, their risk for contracting HIV increases.
Diagnosing trichomoniasis can be difficult in men as opposed to women. A physician can easily obtain a swab from the interior of the vagina where the parasite is most prevalent. On the male, this has to be done in the urethra or the on the skin of the penis. With women, often times red sores can be apparent inside of the vagina or on the cervix. Specimens collected have to be observed under a microscope to make a definitive diagnosis.
The general course of treatment with trichomoniasis is with metronidazole or tinidazole that can be obtained with a doctor's prescription. This is a single oral dose that works on killing the parasite. An anti-itch cream or anti-inflammatory cream may also be administered to give temporary relief from inflammation and itching. Both partners infected with trich should be treated together to prevent reinfection even if the other shows no visible symptoms.
Abstaining from sexual contact all together is the only way to prevent the disease. Being with a partner who is uninfected in a monogamous relationship is also another way to prevent getting Trichomoniasis. For those who have been infected, it is important to contact previous partners so they can be tested and treated to prevent widespread transmission of the parasite.
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