Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI), caused by a single celled parasite which causes inflammation in the genital and urinary tracts. Women are more susceptible to infection, while men can carry the infection without displaying noticeable symptoms. Like other sexually transmitted infections, the surest way to avoid the disease is to abstain from sexual activity, but the risk can be greatly reduced by using barrier protection and only engaging in sexual activity with committed partners.
The organism responsible for trichomoniasis is a protozoan known as a trichomonad. When the protozoan colonizes the genital and urinary tracts, it causes an inflammation which can create an itching or burning sensation. Women who are infected may experience unpleasant vaginal discharges with a strange smell or foamy appearance. In men, infection generally sets in along the urethra, creating an unpleasant sensation during urination. The condition is treated with a course of drugs; typically only one large dose is needed to eliminate the infection.
Women are most vulnerable to trichomoniasis infections during their menstrual periods, although they can potentially be infected at any time. It can take one to three weeks for symptoms to emerge, although women are capable of passing the infection to other partners before the symptoms appear. Most women first notice the symptoms in the form of uncomfortable urination and sexual activity.
While someone is infected with trichomoniasis, his or her risk of contracting HIV is increased, because the infection irritates the already vulnerable tissue of the genital tract, creating an opportunity for HIV to move in. This infection has also been linked with low birth weight in infants, so pregnant women who suspect they have the condition should seek medical treatment.
This sexually transmitted infection is also known as “trich,” and it is relatively common. Thanks to effective drugs, trichomoniasis is fairly easy to treat, and it appears to have no lingering effects. In the event someone is diagnosed with trichomoniasis or another STI, it is considered polite to contact recent sexual partners to alert them and to suggest that they receive treatment. Some public health departments may offer this service for clients who are embarrassed about contacting former partners.