TRICHOMONIASIS - a patient's guide
- Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted disease
- It is caused by a parasite which lives in the vagina or penis
- Men rarely have symptoms but may have a white discharge
- Women who have symptoms have a yellow, grey or green discharge
- The condition is often associated with other STDs (sexually transmitted diseases)
- In pregnant women it can lead to premature labour, and low birth weight babies
- Condoms may help prevent it
- It is treated with antibiotics
What is it?
Trichomoniasis is a relatively uncommon STD which is also known as "Trich". It is spread by a parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis.
The parasite lives in the vagina in women and the urethra in men, however, men rarely have symptoms.
The infection is transmitted through unprotected heterosexual sex and can be spread among lesbian couples.
Research suggests that condition can lead to an increased risk of HIV and may cause premature labour in pregnant women and a baby with a low birth weight.
The incubation period is between three and 21 days after contact with an infected person.
Infection is often associated with other STDs.
What are the symptoms?
There may be no symptoms in about half the women who have it, but women who notice the condition complain of a vaginal discharge which can be yellow, green or grey, discomfort during sexual intercourse, odour, and itchiness.
There may also be redness on the cervix, genitals or inner thigh. Occasionally women may complain of abdominal pain.
Laboratory testing will confirm diagnosis. Screening for other STDs is advised.
Men rarely have symptoms when they do occur there is a white discharge from the penis and they may complain of problems urinating.
What can be done to help?
Both sexual partners need treatment. Even if the male has no symptoms he needs treatment to avoid reinfection in the female.
An antibiotic usually cures the condition. The drug of choice is metronidazole which can cause nausea if a person drinks alcohol while on the medication. There is controversy over whether to treat pregnant women before or after delivery.
Avoid having unprotected sex until after treatment.
How can it be prevented?
Condoms are believed to provide the best protection, however, no studies have been done to prove this.
Future studies may look at how the infection can be prevented.
Your local sexual health clinic or doctor will be able to help.