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Types of STD

Trichomoniasis

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What is trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis is caused by the parasite Trichomonas vaginalis. It is passed through vaginal sex. Trichomonas cannot be passed through kissing, oral or anal sex. Though low risk, trichomoniasis can also be passed through sharing sex toys.

It is more common in females than males. Despite its high incidence, it is quite neglected and commonly undiagnosed due to the lack of routine screening, low sensitivity of tests and the asymptomatic nature of the disease.

Signs and symptoms

For females

Up to 50% of infected women are asymptomatic.

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge 
  • Pain while urinating (dysuria)
  • Itching or burning around the vagina
  • Pain during sexual intercourse (dyspareunia)
  • Pain in the lower abdomen

For males

It is usually asymptomatic in males. These symptoms below are uncommon.

  • Urethral discharge
  • Pain while urinating (dysuria)
  • Itching and/or burning around the opening of the penis
  • Pain and swelling of testicles

Further complications

The infection by trichomonas may enhance HIV transmission for both females and males.

For females, untreated trichomonas has long-term health complications such as:

  • Vaginitis, cervicitis and cystitis (inflammation of the vagina, cervix and bladder, respectively)
  • Increase risk of other STDs such as HPV and HIV
  • In pregnant women, can lead to preterm delivery and low birth weight of baby

For males, untreated trichomonas has long-term health complications such as:

  • Increase risk in prostate cancer
  • Male infertility

Causes and risk factors

There are certain risk factors that increase your chances in contracting trichomonas.

  • Having multiple sexual partners
  • Engaging in risky sexual behaviour such as unprotected sex
  • Drug injection
  • History or presence of STD

Testing

It is important to visit your health provider for tests if you are experiencing symptoms or if your partner has an STD.

Females would usually be tested through a vaginal swab and males would either be through a urine test or a swab.

Treatment

Antibiotics would be prescribed by your doctor. Depending on the severity of your infection, a doctor may prescribe a one-time dose or an antibiotic that may require you to take every day for a week. With antibiotics, it is important to complete the entire course even if you feel better.

Though antibiotics would cure the infection, it would not undo or repair the damage that the infection has caused.

Safety

A common question is when is it safe to have sex again after being infected. Usually it is recommended to avoid sexual intercourse until the infection is cleared, this includes oral sex and condom sex.

Usually a 1-week follow up will be undertaken to ensure effectiveness of medication. It is common to get a repeat infection, therefore retesting might be done to those who remain symptomatic after 4 weeks.

Prevention

Partner notification is important with STDs to prevent reinfection as well as onward transmission.

To prevent being infected, it is best to practice safe sex. Condoms are effective in reducing the risk of catching or spreading STDs.

References

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Types of STD