Medical information – Trichomonas
What is Trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis (Infection with Trichomonas) is a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Trichomoniasis is an inflammation of the vagina, urethra or bladder. Trichomoniasis is not serious and is treatable. Globally, according to the WHO, around 170 million people are infected with Trichomonas each year, which makes Trichomoniasis one of the most common STDs.
What causes it?
Trichomoniasis is caused by microorganisms, in specific by a parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. . It mainly infests the genital area of humans. Transmission usually occurs through direct mucosal contact with an infected person during unsafe sex. Patients who were already infected with other STDs, like Chlamydia, Syphilis or HIV, are more likely to catch Trichomoniasis. An infection with Trichomonas through commonly used towels, chlorine free bathing water or saunas is possible but very rare.
What are the symptoms?
After being infected, in most cases roughly one to three weeks pass before the first symptoms begin to show. However, both women and men might not experience any symptoms for years. Women have more symptoms than men. If the vagina is infected, it may cause itching and sometimes foul smelling and a yellowish or green discharge. The inside of the labia and vagina may be red, swollen and painful. The result is painful urination.
In men, Trichomonas mainly infests urethra, foreskin and prostate and causes inflammations there. Men rarely have symptoms of Trichomoniasis which is why they are often unknowingly transmitting the infection. Sometimes there is a small amount of discharge in the morning. The exit of the urethra may become irritated and a burning sensation while urinating may occur.
When suspecting an infection with Trichomonas, you should get tested. In addition to interpreting the symptoms you might have, a sample will be taken of your vaginal fluid (women) or your urethral fluid (men) and this will be analysed in an accredited laboratory.
A Trichomonas-infection is not very serious. With annoying symptoms such as itching, pain or foul, smelly discharge, antibiotic treatment tablets may help. You should not drink alcohol while taking them. In order to avoid infecting each other, it is important that the partner is tested and treated as well. Also, infected persons should not have sex during their Trichomoniasis therapy. By taking a control sample after finishing the treatment with antibiotics, it is made sure that the therapy was successful. However, re-infection with Trichomonas is always possible, as treatment does not lead to immunity. But a chronic infection with Trichomonas and severe inflammation of genitals only develop, when the disease remains untreated in men.
Warning of partner(s)
If you are tested positive, it is not only important to get yourself treated, but it’s also important to alert all of your sexual partner(s) from the past 6 months (preferably the past 12 months) regardless on whether they encounter symptoms. They can have themselves tested (and possibly treated) as well.
Safe sex is the best way to prevent STDs. You should avoid direct contact between the mucous membranes of the penis, vagina, anus and mouth and the infected area. Tongue kissing each other while using fingers for your partners satisfaction is generally safe, but make sure no (menstrual) blood, semen or vaginal fluid get in contact with your partner’s mucous membranes because this increases the risk of transmission of STDs. When having vaginal and anal sex (contact between penis and anus) or when sharing a dildo you should always use a new condom. Oral sex (contact between mouth and genitals i.e., fellatio or cunnilingus) is only safe when using a condom or a dental dam protection.
What should I do after being tested positive?
If you are tested positive for Trichomoniasis, you will have to contact your doctor immediately to get your STD treated right away. Trichomoniasis can be cured through a treatment of antibiotics.
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