Most sexually transmitted diseases are bacterial or viral, like HIV, but trichomoniasis, or trich, is a parasite that spreads between infected people during sex. Although trich is a tiny parasite and not visible to the naked eye, a healthcare provider can put some fluid under a microscope and make it visible. If you're wondering how is trichomoniasis spread - we've got all you need to know about trichomoniasis right here.
Symptoms of trichomoniasis range from none to symptoms commonly associated with gonorrhoea - unusual genital discharge, soreness around the genitals, and swelling. You might not even know you have trichomoniasis - which is why you should get tested regularly. At iPlaySafe App, we're passionate about educating people about sexually transmitted infections and breaking down the stigmas of disucssing them.
Trichomoniasis is an STI that generally doesn't have any symptoms; this can make it difficult to identify whether you have the disease, causing it to go undiagnosed and untreated for long periods.
That said, there are some common trichomoniasis symptoms to look out for that differ between women and men.
For women, the signs of trichomoniasis include abnormal vaginal discharge, which can be thick or thin, frothy, or green and yellow in colour. This discharge might have an unpleasant fishy smell and can be accompanied by itching and soreness around the vagina.
The symptoms are slightly different in men. The disease can cause pain while peeing and when ejaculating; it can also cause men to pee more frequently and produces a white discharge from the penis. There might also be penis pain and swelling around the head of the penis and foreskin.
If you discover any of these symptoms, you need to go to your healthcare provider or GUM clinic and arrange treatment.
Trichomoniasis can be dangerous, and it won't disappear on its own; you will need antibiotics. It's good practice to take an STI test once a year as a precaution - you can even purchase an at-home STI test if you'd prefer to test in the comfort of your house.
The trichomoniasis parasite, called Trichomonas vaginalis, does not lead to a bacterial infection like many STIs. However, it is still passed from one infected person to another during sexual contact.
During intercourse with sexual partners, the tiny parasite passes from the infected penis to the vagina or from the infected vagina to the penis. It can also spread from vagina to vagina.
For women, the infection generally occurs in the vagina and spreads to other parts of the vagina and genital tract. It can infect the vulva, the vagina, the cervix, and the urethra. For men, the inside of the penis is the most commonly infected area, specifically the urethra.
Although the parasite tends to infect various regions of the genital tract, it does not normally infect other parts of the body such as the hands, the mouth, or the anus. It is not known why some people experience symptoms of this while others have no symptoms at all. It might depend on age and health.
The best way to prevent trichomoniasis is to practice safer sex. Using a condom prevents the parasite from spreading during sex and is the most effective means of disease control and prevention.
Trichomoniasis can be difficult to diagnose, first because there are very few symptoms, and second because the symptoms present similarly to those of other STIs. However, any unusual symptoms relating to your sexual health should be investigated by your healthcare provider or your local GUM clinic.
This is your first port of call if you discover some unusual discharge from your penis or vagina, or if you experience redness or soreness in your genital area; even if you don't have these symptoms, but you are active sexually, you are potentially at risk - you should still get tested at least once a year.
Your doctor or medical examiner will exam your genital area for signs of infection - this could be redness or soreness around the cervix and vagina walls or on the penis. Following this, a swab from the area will be taken and sent to a laboratory for examination.
If the laboratory test confirms that you have trichomoniasis, you need to stop having sex immediately and contact any sex partners; they too will need to undertake an STI test and treatment if they test positive. Trichomoniasis is usually treated with medication from your doctor in the form of pills.
The trichomoniasis parasite exists within vaginal fluid and semen. When someone suspects they have the infection because of symptoms or carry out a routine test for STIs, the doctor will take a sample of this fluid and send it to a laboratory for testing. It will then be tested under a microscope.
A medical professional will examine the fluid and look for the parasite. If the parasite can't be located but the symptoms point to trichomoniasis, a rapid antigen test or a nucleic acid amplification test can be used. These tests look for the genetic presence of the pathogen rather than the pathogen itself.
Once diagnosed with trichomoniasis, treatment can begin right away. Treatment for trichomoniasis is simple and carried out with a course of pills rather than an antibiotic injection. The medications used to treat it are called metronidazole (Flagyl) and tinidazole (Tindamax). You will get one single dose of these.
The medication is fast-acting, but you still need to avoid sex while undergoing treatment. You should be able to recommence sexual intercourse after treatment in 7 days - but it is possible to get reinfected.
If you want an active yet safe sex life, it's a good idea to follow some of the best practices that allow you to have the sex life you want and to protect you from harmful STIs at the same time.
These involve using a latex barrier like a new condom or a dental dam, and making sure your partners are also being tested regularly.
The first line of defence against STIs is to wear a latex condom; this is especially important if you have multiple sexual partners that you don't know well. Used properly, a condom offers excellent protection against bacterial STIs and parasites every time you have sex. Dental dams and clean sex toys are also useful forms of protection.
The other way you can reduce your chances of catching trichomoniasis is by limiting your sex partners to those who also undergo regular STI tests. This not only reduces your chances of catching or spreading an STI through unprotected sex, but it means you can track and trace any STI infections more easily - you should also avoid sharing sex toys.
If you discover that you or your partner has symptoms of trichomoniasis, you need to stop engaging in vaginal or anal sex immediately and take an STI test.
If the tests come back positive, effective treatment can be started right away with fast results. Take an annual test if you think you're at risk of sexually transmitted infections.
There are some similarities and some differences. Like STIs such as chlamydia, trichomoniasis might have no symptoms at all; on the other hand, it might present in the same way as gonorrhoea with unusual discharge coming from the penis or vagina. You'll need to get tested to find out.
Untreated trich is similar to other STIs and different at the same time. As with other diseases, trichomoniasis is easy to cure; it's probably the most common curable STD - but it's a parasite rather than a bacterial infection or a virus.
Your doctor will prescribe medication in the form of a pill for trichomoniasis. An antibiotic injection is used with other bacterial infections, and the cure is around 7 days.
Once trichomoniasis is diagnosed, the infection clears quickly using oral medications. This medication is in the form of oils, and it's the same for men, women - including pregnant women. The proper treatment usually lasts for around 7 days, after which time it is cured, and you can be sexually active again.
However, you can still get trichomoniasis after you have been cured. Around one in three partners get infected again after being effectively cured of the disease. Trichomoniasis is a parasite that can reinfect your system, promoting more treatment. Practice safe sex post-treatment to prevent reinfection.
If you have Trichomonas vaginalis, you need to get treated for it immediately. Treatment is in the form of antibiotic medication that clears up the infection in 7 days. After this period, you can have sex again.
However, you need to avoid all sexual activity and inform your sexual partners that you have the infection during that time - they will also need to get tested for disease control and prevention.
If you have the infection unknowingly but you are wearing a condom while you have sex, the chances of your sex partner also having the infection is far lower. That doesn't mean you should have sex wearing a condom when you know you have the disease; there is still a risk of it spreading.
On its own, trichomonas vaginalis is an easy to treat sexually transmitted disease. After you are diagnosed, the infection can be easily treated in a matter of days.
However, it's best to get treated as soon as possible as this disease can increase your chances of contracting a more serious condition, such as HIV. If you have trichomonas vaginalis, it can lead to genital inflammation and increase your susceptibility to sexually transmitted infections - particularly in women.
Always remember to test regularly for STIs to keep you and your partner(s) healthy.