Symptoms and Consequences of Trichomoniasis
Trichomoniasis, often called "trich", is caused by a single-celled protozoan parasite known as trichomonas vaginalis. It is usually transmitted through sexual intercourse, although the parasite can also live on towels, bedding, and clothing. Trichomoniasis is the most common curable STD with over 7 million cases in the United States alone. Both women and men may contract the infection, though women are at a greater risk. Most people become infected between the ages of 16 and 35. Left untreated, the symptoms of trichomoniasis can become extremely uncomfortable and may even cause serious damage to your body.
Symptoms of Trichomoniasis
While both women and men can contract the disease, it is women who more commonly suffer from symptoms of trichomoniasis. More than 60% of women infected with trich will experience some symptoms of the disease. Symptoms of trichomoniasis generally appear within 5 and 28 days of infection, although sometimes it can take as long as 6 months for symptoms to develop.
If you are a woman with trich you will most likely have a yellow-green or gray vaginal discharge. This discharge will be bubbly or frothy and have a very bad odor, similar to a yeast infection. Blood can also be present in this discharge. Your vagina may appear more red than usual and your labia may become swollen. Pain during urination and sex is also common in women infected with trich. Lower abdominal pain is a much less common symptom, but it does occur in about 10% of women who are infected. These symptoms generally do not go away on their own.
Men usually exhibit no symptoms of trichomoniasis. The parasites that cause the infection stays well inside the urinary tract, making symptoms rare and diagnosis difficult. About 40% of men will experience mild symptoms. If you are male and have trich you may feel a tingling sensation inside your penis accompanied with painful urination and ejaculation. Your penis may also produce a thin, white discharge. Your symptoms will probably go away on their own within a couple of weeks. This does not mean that you are no longer infectious. You will still be able to spread trichomoniasis to your sexual partners.
Consequences of Trichomoniasis
If left untreated, trich can last for years. You will experience some very uncomfortable symptoms and may also be at risk for various infections. Men may risk penis infection and urethritis as well as prostate problems.
Women with prolonged infections may damage their fallopian tubes and the tissues making up the cervix. Trichomoniasis is also associated with increased risks for HIV infection. Because trich causes the body to create more cells, the HIV virus has more opportunity to infect your body. People with Trich are three to five times more likely to contract HIV.
Pregnant women with trich may pass the disease to their newborn, although this is rare. However, trichomoniasis is associated with premature birth
and low-weight babies. Therefore it is important that pregnant women be tested and treated for trich if they are infected.