Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are conventionally divided into the viral, the bacterial, the parasitic, and the fungal. One of the most common of STDs, and the most common among young women, is called “trichomoniasis” and falls under the category of parasitic STDs.
The parasite that causes trichomoniasis is the one-celled protozoa “Trichomonas vaginalis.”
Trichomoniasis is fairly easily passed sexually between men and women or between women. It is infrequent though possible for it to be transmitted sexually between men, or by way of a moist inanimate object such as shared sheets, towels, or clothes.
Trichomoniasis can often be passed unknowingly, because a person may not have symptoms and thus may not realize they have it. In fact, the norm is for men to be asymptomatic, and women only sometimes have symptoms. If symptoms occur at all, it generally takes 3-28 days for them to become manifest.
For the minority of men who are symptomatic, these symptoms can include any or all of the following:
* Discharge from the penis
* Tingling or discomfort in the penis
* Pain or a burning sensation during or after urination
* Pain or a burning sensation during or after ejaculation
Symptoms of trichomoniasis in women can include any or all of the following:
* A frothy, strong-smelling vaginal discharge, which can be gray, green, white or yellow
* Genital itching and/or burning
* Redness around the vagina
* Pain during intercourse
* Pain during urination
* Abdominal pain
Symptoms sometimes worsen during menstruation.
Trichomoniasis is one of the more easily cured STDs. One megadose pill of the antibiotic metronidazole is usually all that is needed. Alternatives that are sometimes prescribed include taking smaller doses of metronidazole 2-3 times a day for 7-10 days, or taking the antibiotic tinidazole. There are also medicated creams or gels that can be used in the vagina to treat the infection, but they tend not to be as effective as the oral medications.
Both the patient and their sex partner(s) should be treated at the same time and avoid unprotected sex until the infection is cured, to prevent reinfection.
There are two known dangers of leaving even asymptomatic trichomoniasis untreated. One, studies indicate there is at least some increase in likelihood of transmission of the HIV virus to or from a woman with trichomoniasis. Two, pregnant women suffering from trichomoniasis are more likely to deliver prematurely or to give birth to a low birthweight baby.
Elizabeth Boskey, “Trichomoniasis.” About.com.
“Trichomoniasis.” Mayo Clinic.