Trichomonas vaginitis is a very common sexually transmitted disease. It is caused by a parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis, which thrives in the warm, damp atmosphere provided by the mucous membranes of the vagina. The disease can be transmitted through genital-to-genital contact with males as well as other females. Trichomonas vaginitis may cause symptoms of itching, unusual discharge, and painful intercourse that usually appear a few days after coming in contact with the parasite. When the disease is discovered early, it is easily treatable with a single oral dose of an anti-parasitic medication.
Young, sexually active females who do not use adequate protection are at the highest risk of catching trichomonas vaginitis. It is among the most common sexually transmitted diseases worldwide. The major reason why it is so widespread is that males rarely develop symptoms when they carry the parasite, so infected men can unknowingly put their female sexual partners at risk. Direct genital contact is necessary to transmit the disease; the parasite cannot cause infection through oral or anal intercourse.
Most women who contract trichomonas vaginitis begin experiencing symptoms within the first week of infection, though the parasite can occasionally lie dormant for several weeks or months. The first signs of infection typically include itching sensations in and around the vaginal opening. Parasites may cause a thin, foamy, green or yellow discharge that is accompanied by a distinct foul odor. Some infected women also experience pain or burning sensations during intercourse or urination. The disease lowers a person's immune system defenses and increases the likelihood of catching other infections, sexually transmitted or otherwise.
It is important to visit a gynecologist or primary care doctor whenever a sexually transmitted disease is suspected. A physician can perform a careful physical exam and collect samples of mucous and discharge for laboratory testing. In most cases, samples are screened for trichomonas vaginitis as well as several other possible diseases that may be responsible for symptoms.
The standard treatment for trichomonas vaginitis is a single dose of metronidazole or tinidazole provided on site at the doctor's office or health clinic. Patients are advised to avoid alcohol for at least two days after taking the medication to prevent complications. In addition, women who are treated for the disease are strongly encouraged to inform their past sexual partners so they can be tested and treated as well. Practicing safer sex in the future helps reduce the chances of recurring infections.