What Is Trichomoniasis??>
Ask the Experts

What Is Trichomoniasis?

by Berkeley Wellness  

Q: What is trichomoniasis, and how is it spread?

A: Trichomoniasis is one of the most com­mon sexually transmitted infections, with about 4 million new cases in the U.S. annu­ally, most of them in women. The cause is a protozoan parasite, Trichomonas vaginalis, which infects the vagina and sometimes the urethra and is transmitted during unpro­tected sex. Contrary to some online reports, it is not spread by toilet seats (largely because the organism can’t live long on objects).

Two-thirds of people with trichomoniasis have no symptoms so they usually don’t know it, but they can still spread the infec­tion. Common symptoms in women are vag­inal itching, irritation, greenish-yellowish vaginal discharge, and pain and itching dur­ing intercourse or urination—which can be mistaken for symptoms of other vaginal or cervical infections. The great majority of infected men have no symptoms; the most common symptom in men is a burning sen­sation when urinating.

The most serious risks of trichomoniasis are complications during pregnancy, reduced fertility, and increased risk of getting other sexually transmitted infections.

If you’re a woman having symptoms of a vaginal infection, including any abnormal discharge, consult your health care provider, who can do a lab test. And if you’re taking medication for a yeast infection and there’s no improvement in three days, get medical advice.

A single dose of antibiotics can cure tricho­moniasis. Your sexual partner(s) should also be treated in order to prevent re-infection, which is common. Condom use greatly reduces the risk of infection. For more informa­tion, go to the CDC's trichomoniasis web page.

See also: How to Prevent STDs.