What is trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis or trich is caused by a tiny one-celled parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. It lives in the genitals. It is transmitted usually during unprotected sexual activity; therefore, it is called a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or sexually transmitted infection (STI).
Can a man give a woman trichomoniasis?
Yes, a man can infect a woman with trich. Most people with a trich infection may not show any symptoms and never know that they have it. However, a man who is unaware of the infection can transmit it to a woman. Symptoms of trich in men, if present, include pain during peeing or discharge from the penis. A man can carry the infection for 5 to 28 days without showing any trich symptoms. During sex, the parasite usually spreads from a penis to a vagina or from a vagina to a penis. Even if a man does not ejaculate during sex, trich can still spread to the woman through genital touching.
About 50% of women may show no symptoms. Others may have severe infections with serious sequelae. Women who have sex with women also have the possibility of getting trich infection.
Your risk of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is higher if you have trich and are exposed to a person with HIV. It is recommended that women with HIV should be screened for trich at least once a year.
What are the symptoms of trichomoniasis?
Trich generally affects both genders. Women may suffer from its symptoms more than men. Men may not show any symptoms.
You may get trich symptoms within 5 to 28 days after being infected. Some others do not develop symptoms until much later. You may have mild irritation to severe inflammation in the genital area if you have trich. Symptoms can come and go and without treatment it can last for months, or even years.
If you are a woman and have trich, you may experience
- Vaginal discharge with a bad odor
- Greenish or yellowish vaginal fluid
- Itching, burning, redness or soreness in the vagina
- Pain while peeing
- Discomfort/pain during sex
- Frequent urination
- Bleeding after sex
- Lower belly pain (rare)
If you are a man and have trich, you may experience
- Itching or irritation inside the penis
- White discharge from the penis
- Pain while peeing
- Discomfort/pain during sex
- Frequent urination
You may not have any symptoms. However, if you don’t get treatment, it may increase your risk of other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Therefore, talk to your doctor about whether you should be tested.
How does a doctor diagnose trichomoniasis?
It can be detected in symptomatic women by examining the vaginal discharge. In a symptomatic person, the culture for genital fluid or a DNA test may help the diagnosis.
If you are a woman, see your gynecologist
- On days other than when you have your monthly period
- And do not have sex for at least 24 hours before the exam or use condoms
Your gynecologist may
- Examine your groin region
- Take vaginal fluid samples with a cotton swab and/or
- Examine it under the microscope
- Send the vaginal fluid samples for a culture test (the parasite grows in a lab and it takes a week).
- Send the sample for a DNA test.
The parasite is harder to detect in men than in women. However, it can be detected easily by culture tests for genital fluid in both the genders. A recently available DNA test is more accurate and can be done in both the genders. It can be done with vaginal fluid or a urine sample.
If you have trich, you need to be tested for other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), too. The same samples can be used by your doctor to check for other infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhea.
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