What causes it?
One morning you wake up and go to the bathroom, you notice that it burns when you urinate. You also notice that you have itching and redness to your genital area. So, you go to the doctor to see what’s the matter. After running a few tests, your doctor tells you that you have trichomoniasis. What do you need to do to feel better? Are there steps you can take to prevent it in the future?
Trichomoniasis, or trich, is a sexually transmitted infection caused by a one-celled protozoan (a type of tiny parasite). The time between exposure and infection (incubation period) isn’t known but is thought to be somewhere between 4 – 28 days. It affects over 3 million people every year.
One reason that it spreads as much as it does is that many people don’t have symptoms, at least not at first. Symptoms for women include foul-smelling vaginal discharge (can be white, gray, yellow, or green), genital redness/burning/itching, and pain with urination/intercourse. While men rarely have symptoms, they can have irritation inside the penis, burning with urination/after ejaculation, and discharge from the penis.
Certain things can increase your chances of having a trichomoniasis infection, such as having multiple sexual partners, a history of other sexually transmitted infections, a previous episode of trichomoniasis, or having sex without a condom. Most complications from a trichomoniasis infection apply to pregnant women. It can cause premature delivery, the baby to have a low birth weight, and potentially transmit the infection to the baby as it passes through the birth canal. All women who have a trichomoniasis infection are at higher risk of becoming infected with HIV.
The treatment for trichomoniasis is to take a megadose of metronidazole or tinidazole. This is the treatment for pregnant women too. Sometimes, your doctor will recommend a lower dose of metronidazole two times a day for seven days. It’s vital not to consume alcohol for 24 hours after taking metronidazole and 72 hours after taking tinidazole because it can cause severe nausea and vomiting.
To make sure the infection goes away, both you and your partner need to be treated and should avoid intercourse for at least a week (it takes about this long for the infection to clear). Also, your doctor will probably want to retest you anywhere from two weeks to three months after the treatment to ensure that you aren’t reinfected. It’s important to note that untreated trichomoniasis can last for months or years.
When it comes to preventing a trichomoniasis infection, the only way to guarantee this is to abstain from sex. However, if you’re planning on partaking in intercourse, you need to use a condom every time. You should also get tested regularly for all sexually transmitted infections (STIs), so you can be treated as early as possible.
While no one wants to have a trichomoniasis infection, the good news is that it can easily be treated. So, you’ll be back to your healthy self in no time. If you have any questions or concerns about trichomoniasis, please speak with your doctor. If you would like more information, please visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Trichomoniasis page at https://www.cdc.gov/std/trichomonas/default.htm