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Trichomoniasis: What You Need To Know About This STI

Trichomoniasis is a relatively common sexually-transmitted infection (STI) that affects millions of people worldwide. Keep reading to get vital information about trichomoniasis in women; trichomoniasis causes, the common symptoms of trichomoniasis, and possible treatment and prevention measures.

STIs can occur in anyone who’s sexually active, but the risk increases for people who don’t use protection. It’s important to remember that a person can have an STI without knowing about it because they don’t have any symptoms. That’s one reason why regular screening for STIs is a necessary part of responsible sexual activity.

Trichomoniasis, or “trich” for short, is a common STI that doesn’t always have symptoms. The infection is named after the parasite Trichomonas vaginalis, which is spread through unprotected sex or by sharing sex toys with someone who has the parasite. The parasite infects the vulva, vagina, cervix, and urethra (the tube that you urinate out of) in the female body.

Trichomoniasis in women is more common than in men, and men with trichomoniasis are more likely to be asymptomatic. That’s why it’s important to get tested for STIs regularly if you’re sexually active, especially if your sexual relationships aren’t monogamous.

While trichomoniasis in women can be effectively treated by a health care professional, the STI can come with some uncomfortable symptoms and potential fertility risks.

As mentioned, not everyone who gets trich shows signs. About 70 percent of people with trichomoniasis don’t show signs or symptoms, so they won’t know they have it unless they get tested. 

For people who do show signs, the symptoms of trichomoniasis in women can take up to a month to develop. Many of the symptoms are similar to other sexually transmitted infections and cause changes in vaginal discharge. Trichomoniasis discharge often has the following qualities: 

  • Thick, frothy, or discolored (typically with a yellow-green hue to it)
  • An excessive amount or more than typical
  • Fishy or foul odor

Other symptoms of trichomoniasis in women can include:

  • Vaginal swelling, soreness, or itchiness
  • Itching around the inner thighs
  • Redness around your genitals
  • Experiencing vaginal or pelvic pain during sex

Men with trichomoniasis may also have symptoms such as white discharge, swelling or soreness around the head of their penis or foreskin, and pain while urinating or ejaculating. 

See your doctor if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed above and ask to be tested for STIs. Trichomoniasis symptoms are similar to other STIs, so your doctor may recommend additional tests to confirm a diagnosis of trich.

See your doctor if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed above and ask to be tested for STIs.

Even if you don’t have any symptoms, you can still pass trich onto your partner, which is why it’s still important to get tested if you’re sexually active. 

The Trichomonas vaginalis parasite most commonly gets passed from penis to vagina or vagina to penis by having penetrative sex without a condom. It can also be passed from vagina to vagina.

Another way that trichomoniasis spreads is by sharing infected sex toys that haven’t been properly washed between each use or between partners. Your risk of getting trichomoniasis may increase if you have multiple sexual partners or if you’ve previously had an STI.

The Trichomonas vaginalis parasite most commonly gets passed from penis to vagina or vagina to penis by having penetrative sex without a condom.

Statistically speaking, older women are typically more likely to get trich than younger women. Still, anyone who has unprotected sex can get trichomoniasis.

Trichomoniasis is not spread through hugging, kissing, or sharing drinks or food with someone who has it. It is also not likely to spread through anal or oral sex.

If you think you have trichomoniasis, the first thing to do is see your doctor. They’ll perform an exam to look for swelling or redness, and they will swab the inside of your vagina and send the culture to a laboratory for analysis. 

If your test comes back positive, you’ll need to treat the infection — it’s very rare for trichomoniasis to go away on its own. The good news is that trichomoniasis is easy to treat with the right prescription antibiotics. Your doctor will recommend the right medication and treatment regimen for you, based on your needs or any health conditions. 

Be sure to take the full course of treatment according to your doctor or pharmacist’s instructions. 

You should also notify any present or recent sexual partners that you have trichomoniasis so that they can get tested too. In some places, your doctor may also be able to provide you with a course of medication that you can give to your partner to ensure that you don’t continue to pass between each other. After treatment, your doctor might recommend that you come back for further testing to confirm that the treatment was effective.

If your test comes back positive, you’ll need to treat the infection — it’s very rare for trichomoniasis to go away on its own.

Early detection and treatment will help prevent the spread of trichomoniasis. If left untreated, trichomoniasis in women who are pregnant can lead to possible complications such as preterm birth or low birth weight. Some studies have also shown that people with trichomoniasis may be at a higher risk of contracting more serious STIs, including HIV. 

The only way to completely prevent getting an STI like trichomoniasis is by not having sex. Because of the nature of Trichomonas vaginalis, infection can still spread via contact with an area not protected by a condom, such as the groin or pubis. However, using a condom does greatly reduce the risk of contracting trich.

If you’re sexually active, these tips can help reduce your risk of getting or spreading trichomoniasis: 

  • Always practice safe sex by using an internal or external condom or dental dam. Be sure to choose the right size condom, use lubrication if necessary, and change the condom after each use. 
  • Be monogamous and have sex with a mutually-monogamous partner. Make sure you have both been recently tested for any STIs, especially if you’re having unprotected sex.
  • Clean your sex toys thoroughly after each use according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If you’re sharing sex toys with your partner, use a clean condom any time either of you uses or inserts the sex toy near your genitals. 
  • If you’re not in a monogamous sexual relationship, have a sober conversation with your partner about their sexual history and whether they’ve been tested for STIs before you have sex.
  • Get tested for STIs regularly, especially if you have multiple sexual partners. 

As always, speak with your health care provider if you have any questions about trichomoniasis or other STIs.

The Trichomonas vaginalis parasite causes trichomoniasis, which is a common STI passed through unprotected sexual activity. While the STI can be easily treated with prescription medication, trichomoniasis in women who are pregnant can create complications. 

The best way to avoid getting trichomoniasis is by not having sex. If you’re sexually active, the best way to reduce your risk is to be in a mutually monogamous relationship and use condoms. Ask your doctor to test you for any STIs and follow their recommended treatment plan if you test positive for trichomoniasis.