Trichomoniasis – a nasty condition

Trichomoniasis, affecting both men and women, is, according to the CDC, the most common curable STD (sexually transmitted disease) in young, sexually active women.  “Trich” is caused by the parasite, Trichomonas vaginalis.  Pregnant women with trichomoniasis may have babies who are born early or with low birthweight (less than 5.5 pounds), so it’s important to clear it up as soon as it is diagnosed.

Most men with trichomoniasis do not have signs or symptoms.  Some women do have symptoms of infection which include a frothy, yellow-green vaginal discharge with a strong odor. The infection can cause discomfort during sex and urination, as well as irritation and itching of the genital area.

The genital inflammation caused by trichomoniasis can increase a woman’s susceptibility to HIV infection if she is exposed to the virus. Women infected with Trich have been shown to have a significantly higher rate of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) than uninfected women.  It also may be a contributor to infertility.

A physical exam and laboratory test are necessary to diagnose trichomoniasis. The parasite is harder to detect in men than in women.  The good news is that Trich usually can be cured with prescription drugs, either metronidazole or tinidazole, given by mouth in a single dose.  (Metronidazole is safe for use by pregnant women.)  Topical creams, gels or ointments, however, do not cure it.

An infected man, even a man who has never had symptoms or whose symptoms have stopped, can continue to infect or re-infect a female partner until he has been treated. So, both partners should be treated at the same time to eliminate the parasite. Anyone being treated for trichomoniasis should avoid sex until they and their sex partners complete treatment and have no symptoms.

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