Many People Don't Know They Have Trichmonas

A lot of people do.


Trichomoniasis (or Trich) is a common and curable STD, but many don't know what it is, let alone that they have it. The infection Trichomoniasis (TRIK-uh-muh-NEYE-uh-suhss) is the most common curable STD.

Trich is found more in women than men. It infects over 2 million women in the US. That is, Trich infects 3.1% of women in the US ages 14-49. Some reports show more up to 8.7% of women nationwide. It is even more common in older women - with women over 50 being at most risk; 13% are infected.

The rate in among men is lower; it's likely 1 in 50 men in the US carry the infection.

What does it cause?

It's fortunate, at least it seems, that Trich usually causes no symptoms. Most people who get the infection don't know they have it. Some do have symptoms.

Most symptoms can be described as irritation. This can be itching burning, soreness, burning with urination. This can be mild. They can be more severe.

Men can have irritation with ejaculation. Women can find the infection makes sex feel irritating. 

Women may have some discharge, which may smell odd, and can range in color from clear to white to yellow to green. Affected areas of the genitals may appear red in women. 

Symptoms may start within a few days or weeks (maybe 5 to 28 days) from exposure to the infection. Some may never notice symptoms. Others may notice them much later. Symptoms can come and go. The infection can come and go, ping-ponging between partners if one partner is treated and the other is not.

Infections can last for years in women if not treated.

Why does this matter?

Trich can make it easier to get HIV. The infection is also thought to make it more likely for someone infected to transmit HIV

Mothers with Trichomonas infections are also more likely to have a preterm and/or low birth weight baby.

Some also worry that it may affect prostate health.

Trichomonas can also affect normal vaginal flora and disturb the mixture of bacteria normally present.

What causes it?

It is caused by a parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis (TV). It is a small protozoa, like other infections such as Giardia. It has a small tail - a flagella - to propel itself.

How does it spread?

It spreads through vaginal sex, from man to woman, woman to man, or woman to woman. It is rarely seen in gay men. The infection appears to also spread with sex toys.

It persists longer in women, vaginally, than it does in men - where it can cause infections of the urethra or prostate. It does not appear to cause rectal infections. 

How is it diagnosed?

Symptoms alone can't diagnose it. A lab test can. Go to your doctor, nurse, or an STD center to be tested.

Can you get this infection if you're a woman with a female partner?


Who is at most risk?

In the US, African-American women face high risks of the disease. 1 in 5 Black women may carry a Trich infection.Those who are older are at more risk.

Those women who are in prison (22%) have high rates as are those with HIV.

Can you get this infection if you're a man?

Yes, but it does not appear to last as long.

Men also do not appear to transmit the infection to other men. Gay men do not face this infection as much.

How is it treated?

Your doctor or nurse can treat this infection. Usually, a single dose of Metronidazole (Tindazole) will clear the infection. Some will have a recurrence, which may be because their partner continues to be infected. Infections often ping pong back and forth between partners. 1 in 5 will have the infection 3 months after being treated.

Some people take the pill at a lower dose twice a day for 7 days, but a single does is usually easier. The gel form is not as effective and is not recommended.

Talk to your doctor or nurse if you have any questions about this medication, but pregnant women are able to take it.

You shouldn't drink alcohol while taking this medication, but it's just one dose so that should be easy. The med can make you feel sick when you drink alcohol and people hoping to quit drinking will sometimes take Metronidazole to stop themselves from drinking. 

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