Trichomoniasis is a common sexually transmitted disease that can affect anyone who is sexually active. Although almost 4 million Americans are believed to be infected, nearly 70% do not develop symptoms and unknowingly pass the disease to a partner.
What Causes a Trichomoniasis Infection?
Trichomoniasis is caused by a one-celled parasite that can pass from person to person during sex. Trichomoniasis in women typically affects the lower genital tract that includes the vulva, vagina, urethra, and cervix. Trichomoniasis in men typically affects the inside of the penis. It is uncommon for the infection to affect the anus, mouth, or other parts of the body. Only about 30% of infected people develop symptoms, and those who do typically experience them within five to 28 days following infection.
What Are the Symptoms of Trichomoniasis in Women?
Women are more likely to experience symptoms of trichomoniasis than men. The most common symptoms include:
- Urinary pain or discomfort
- Inflammation, burning, redness, or soreness of the genitals
- A foul-smelling vaginal discharge
What Are the Symptoms of Trichomoniasis in Men?
Men infected with trichomoniasis may experience the following symptoms:
- Pain or burning with urination or ejaculation
- Pain or burning inside the penis
- Penile discharge
How Is Trichomoniasis Diagnosed?
Trichomoniasis can be diagnosed by vaginal or urethral swab, culture, nucleic acid amplification, or rapid antigen test. In recent years, the nucleic acid amplification and antigen tests have become more commonly used because they are more sensitive and specific.
How Are Trichomoniasis Symptoms Treated?
It is possible for trichomoniasis to last for months or even years if not treated. Fortunately, trichomoniasis is easily treated and cured. Treatment typically involves taking a single large dose of the antibiotic metronidazole or tinidazole, both of which are safe for pregnant women. Depending on the circumstances, the provider may prescribe a lower dose of metronidazole taken twice a day for a week. It is important that all sex partners get treated and avoid sexual intercourse until the infection is cured to avoid reinfection. Both metronidazole and tinidazole can cause severe nausea and vomiting when combined with alcohol, so you should avoid drinking, as directed by your provider. In most cases, the provider will want to retest you within a few weeks to months following treatment to make sure that you have not been reinfected.
Do I Need to Worry If I Don’t Have Any Trichomoniasis Symptoms?
Most individuals with trichomoniasis do not develop symptoms; however, it still is possible to pass the infection to a partner or develop complications even if you do not have symptoms. If you have had sex with someone diagnosed with trichomoniasis or have had unprotected sex with someone with an unknown sexual history, you should talk to your provider about getting tested for trichomoniasis and other sexually transmitted diseases.
What Are the Potential Complications of a Trichomoniasis Infection?
Individuals infected with trichomoniasis are at greater risk for getting or spreading other sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. Pregnant women infected with trichomoniasis have a higher rate of preterm delivery, and their babies are more likely to have a low birth weight.
How Can I Prevent Trichomoniasis Symptoms?
As with any type of sexually transmitted disease, the only 100% effective way to prevent it is by avoiding oral, vaginal, or anal sex. If you are sexually active, however, there are steps you can take to lower your risk of getting trichomoniasis or other STDs:
- Using a latex condom correctly every time you have sex significantly lowers your risk of developing a sexually transmitted infection.
- Women should avoid douching since it alters the bacterial balance of the vagina, which can increase the risk of developing a sexually transmitted disease.
- Either stick to one sexual partner you know is free of sexually transmitted diseases, or at least limit your number of sexual partners.
- Before having sex with a new partner, take the time to discuss sexual histories and potential for infections.
Where Can I Go for a Trichomoniasis Test or Treatment?
If you have ever had unprotected sex, it is a good idea to consider STD testing. At FastMed, we offer affordable, confidential STD testing, and are open seven days a week with extended hours. If you’re interested in testing for a few different STDs, we have created convenient packages for you to choose from based on your needs to save you even more money. Additionally, based on the results of your tests, our providers can also recommend the appropriate, compassionate treatment to protect your health as well as that of your partner. Call or stop by today for more information.
FastMed Urgent Care owns and operates nearly 200 centers in North Carolina, Arizona and Texas that provide a broad range of acute/episodic and preventive healthcare services 365 days a year. FastMed also provides workers’ compensation and other occupational health services at all its centers, and family and sports medicine services at select locations. FastMed has successfully treated more than six million patients and is the only independent urgent care operator in North Carolina, Arizona and Texas to be awarded The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® for quality, safety and infection control in ambulatory healthcare. For more information about locations, services, hours of operation, insurance and prices, visit www.fastmed.com.