What is Trichomonas? (with pictures)

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Using safe sex practices can help reduce an individual's chances of contracting trichomonas.
Using safe sex practices can help reduce an individual's chances of contracting trichomonas.

Trichomonas refers to both an organism and the infection it can cause in the human body. This is a single-celled species that can live like a parasite in the human vagina, and results in a sexually transmitted disease that is also known as trichomonas infection or trichomoniasis. Method of transmission is almost always from genital to genital contact, and swift treatment of the illness is recommended, since it may cause problems otherwise.

A trichomonas infection can only be passed on by a woman.
A trichomonas infection can only be passed on by a woman.

The symptoms of trichomonas infection may vary slightly. They usually begin within a week after contact with an infected person. In women, symptoms could include itching, strong odor from the vagina, and discharge that may be yellow or green in color. Women may also feel a strong overall irritated sensation in the pubic region, and may have burning or other painful sensation when urinating or during sexual relations.

A pregnant woman with trichomonas may pass the disease to the baby during delivery.
A pregnant woman with trichomonas may pass the disease to the baby during delivery.

For men, the symptoms, which are often not as severe or possibly not even expressed, could also include a little discomfort when urinating or at orgasm. Sometimes the penis looks red and irritated, or feels irritated or sore inside the tip. Occasionally, even when intercourse is not taking place, the penis could leak a little fluid.

As mentioned, the disease is passed via sexual intercourse between women and men or women and women. It is not passed in male-to-male interactions, though plenty of other sexuality transmitted diseases are and safer sex methods should always be observed. It does have some potential complications. When women get this illness their risk for contracting HIV, as they are more vulnerable due to infection, greatly increases. Women who have a trichomonas infection and are pregnant are at much higher risk for delivering a lower birth weight baby, too.

If a man has trichomonas, his penis may become red and irritated.
If a man has trichomonas, his penis may become red and irritated.

It is very simple to get diagnosis if a trichomonas infection is suspected. Most doctors and any birth control clinics are able to a do a quick exam to determine presence of the parasite. If trichomonas is found, it needs to be treated, and in such a way that reinfection won’t occur.

Sexual partners should be treated at the same time so that they cannot reinfect each other. Any partner no longer in the picture should still be informed of the infection so that he or she can get treatment and not infect others. Oral medications that kill fungus are prescribed for a few weeks, and patients may need to follow up with doctors to be certain the infection has cleared.

Symptoms of trichomonas usually begin within a week after contact with an infected person.
Symptoms of trichomonas usually begin within a week after contact with an infected person.

As with many illnesses, infection with trichomonas does not confer immunity. Having unprotected sex with a partner who has the condition can easily reinfect people. Latex condoms or complete abstinence are thought to be the most effective ways of avoiding infection in the future.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments

anon134928

I was told it was a married couples disease?

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    • Using safe sex practices can help reduce an individual's chances of contracting trichomonas.
      Using safe sex practices can help reduce an individual's chances of contracting trichomonas.
    • A trichomonas infection can only be passed on by a woman.
      A trichomonas infection can only be passed on by a woman.
    • A pregnant woman with trichomonas may pass the disease to the baby during delivery.
      A pregnant woman with trichomonas may pass the disease to the baby during delivery.
    • If a man has trichomonas, his penis may become red and irritated.
      If a man has trichomonas, his penis may become red and irritated.
    • Symptoms of trichomonas usually begin within a week after contact with an infected person.
      Symptoms of trichomonas usually begin within a week after contact with an infected person.
    • Trichomonas is passed via sexual intercourse.
      Trichomonas is passed via sexual intercourse.
    • Symptoms of trichomonas may include pain during urination.
      Symptoms of trichomonas may include pain during urination.
    • Women with a trichomonas infection have an increased risk of contracting HIV.
      Women with a trichomonas infection have an increased risk of contracting HIV.