Trichomoniasis: What You Need to Know

Health A-Z

This article focuses on Trichomoniasis and it is meant to provide useful information, to educate, and give answers to some questions that you might have about this disease.

What is Trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis is a parasitic infection that occurs in the genital area (vagina, cervix, penis, and urethra) of both men and women. It is a very common sexually transmitted disease. Statistics show that women are more likely to get infected than men.

Often the infection causes no symptoms – only about a third of those who are infected experience itchiness, burning sensation, or irritation. The parasite, Trichomonas vaginalis, which causes the condition, responds well to medical treatment. In most cases vaginalTrichomoniasis is successfully treated over the course of just a few days. However, the probability of getting infected again is high.

Signs and Symptoms

Around seventy percent of people who contract Trichomoniasis do not experience any symptoms. This is the reason the disease is often left untreated for long periods of time, which also enables it to be transmitted to a larger number of people. When symptoms do occur they usually manifest as itchiness and irritation in the genital area and a feeling of discomfort while urinating.

The most common symptoms for women include:

  • Inflammation of the genitals (soreness, redness, etc.) followed by the feeling of itchiness.
  • Increased vaginal discharge followed by an unpleasant smell (fishy smell). The discharge can be white, greenish, yellow or colorless.
  • Discomfort or burning while urinating.

The first symptomatic manifestation of Trichomoniasis in women is inflammatory vaginitis. When examined, the cervix may appear slightly changed in size, shape, and color, being named the strawberry cervix. These changes should be checked with a follow-up Pap smear after the successful treatment of Trichomoniasis.

The vaginal pH levels increase as well and the infections of the Skene and Bartholin gland are not rare.

In men, the usual symptoms of Trichomoniasis are:

  • Irritation and itching of the penis
  • A burning sensation after ejaculation and urination
  • Discharge from the penis

Rarely, Trichomoniasis can cause severe inflammation and pain in the lower abdomen. The symptoms usually start to manifest between 5 and 28 days after the infection. Although it is not rare for them to appear much later. Infected women are more likely than men to experience the symptoms of this condition. If left untreated, the infection can last for a very long time, ranging from several months to years. Untreated Trichomoniasis can be a cause of preterm birth and infertility.

It is not completely understood why some people do not develop any symptoms, but it is believed that this could be connected with the overall health of the infected person. In some cases, symptoms can come and go away in a repetitive manner, without any treatment. Having Trichomoniasis makes those who are infected more likely to contract and transmit other STDs, including HIV.