What is Trichomoniasis?
This common STD is a single-cell parasite which thrives in the moist environment of the vagina. When viewed through a microscope they look like miniscule stingrays, whipping their long tails about as they speed back and forth on the slide.
It is an unbelievably contagious STD, spread by sexual contact, and studies have shown that women often have the infection for a few months before symptoms develop. This STD can affect both women and men.
Trichomoniasis is spread by all types of sexual contact – vaginal, oral, anal, and even genital touching.
What are the symptoms of this STD?
Signs and symptoms of trichomoniasis may include:
- Irritating and itching in the genital area.
- A vaginal discharge which may be white or greenish, bad smelling, and either thin or frothy.
- Men will have a discharge from the penis, which comes via the urethra tube.
- Both sexes will have a burning pain when urinating.
- There may also be a measure of discomfort during sex.
If you have any vaginal or penile discharge, it is important to visit your doctor to establish whether it is trichomoniasis, or some other infection issue.
How is Trichomoniasis diagnosed?
The diagnosis is relatively simple, and may include the following:
- Microscopic examination for parasites from a swab taken from vaginal or penile discharge.
- A pelvic examination.
- A culture test using urine or a discharge swab, which will be grown in a laboratory. Although it may take a week for the parasite to grow before it is large enough to be seen, it is the most definitive test. For an unknown reason, some microscopic tests have come up negative, while the culture test has yielded a positive result.
Some risks associated with Trichomoniasis
- Research has shown that you may be at a higher risk of contracting HIV, should you be exposed to it.
- If you already HIV, you also have a greater risk of passing it onto your sex partner.
- Pregnant women with undiagnosed and untreated trichomoniasis, have a greater risk of premature birth problems, and a risk of a low-birth-weight full term baby.
If you have any symptoms, it is important to get diagnosed and treated as soon as possible, or this highly contagious STD might never go away!
The good news
The good news is that trichomoniasis is not at all life-threatening, and there is no evidence that it can damage the reproductive system. However, living with the discharge, the bad smell, and the discomfort of sexual intercourse, may have a negative effect on your libido and sex life.
More good news is that it can be successfully treated with antibiotics that are used to treat parasitic and bacterial infections. Your doctor can prescribe a course of antibiotics, and after you have finished the course, run more tests to make sure that the infection has cleared up.
Do not have sex while you are being treated, unless you use a condom. Always tell your partner of your trichomoniasis status, as he or she should also get tested.
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