Though a simple STI to treat, it is, arguably, the most unpleasant and uncomfortable thing to experience. Trichomonas vaginalis is the tiny organism that is responsible for this infection. This infection which affects both men and women is pronounced in women and causes the vagina to give off a fishy smell. That infection is none other than Trichomoniasis
Trichomoniasis is a very common sexually transmitted disease (STD). It is caused by infection with a protozoan parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. Although symptoms of the disease vary, most people who have the parasite cannot tell they are infected. Trichomoniasis is the most common curable STD. Infection is more common in women than in men. Older women are more likely than younger women to have been infected with trichomoniasis.
How people get it
The parasite passes from an infected person to an uninfected person during sex. In women, the most commonly infected part of the body is the lower genital tract (vulva, vagina, cervix, or urethra). In men, the most commonly infected body part is the inside of the penis (urethra). During sex, the parasite usually spreads from a penis to a vagina, or from a vagina to a penis. It can also spread from a vagina to another vagina. It is not common for the parasite to infect other body parts, like the hands, mouth, or anus. It is unclear why some people with the infection get symptoms while others do not. It probably depends on factors like a person’s age and overall health. Infected people without symptoms can still pass the infection on to others.
Signs and symptoms of trichomoniasis
About 70% of infected people do not have any signs or symptoms. When trichomoniasis does cause symptoms, they can range from mild irritation to severe inflammation. Some people with symptoms get them within 5 to 28 days after being infected. Others do not develop symptoms until much later. Symptoms can come and go. Men who have trichomoniasis typically have no symptoms. Trichomoniasis signs and symptoms for women include:
- Genital redness, burning, and itching
- Pain with urination or sexual intercourse
- A change in their vaginal discharge (i.e., thin discharge or increased volume) that can be clear, white, yellowish, or greenish with an unusual fishy smell.
Having trichomoniasis can make it feel unpleasant to have sex. Without treatment, the infection can last for months or even years.
Trichomoniasis rarely causes symptoms in men. When signs or symptoms do appear, they are
- Irritation inside the penis
- Burning with urination or after ejaculation
- Discharge from the penis
When to see a doctor
See your doctor if you have a foul-smelling vaginal discharge or if you have pain with urination or sexual intercourse.
What is responsible for trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis is caused by a one-celled protozoan, a type of tiny parasite that travels between people during sexual intercourse. The incubation period between exposure and infection is unknown, but it’s thought to range from four to 28 days.
· Risk factors include having:
- Multiple sexual partners
- A history of other sexually transmitted infections
- A previous episode of trichomoniasis
- Having sex without a condom
Having trichomoniasis also appears to make it easier for women to become infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
The only way to avoid STDs is to avoid vaginal, anal, or oral sex. However, if you choose to be sexually active, here are some tips.
· If you are in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner, make sure they have done and tested negative for STI test.
· Use latex condoms when you want to have sex
· Another approach is to talk about the potential risk of STDs before you have sex with a new partner. That way you can make informed choices about the level of risk you are comfortable talking about your sex life.
If you or someone you know has questions about Trichomoniasis or any other STD, or you think you might have been infected, talk to a health care provider who will run some tests on you to confirm.