What is trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection characterized by vaginal and urinary symptoms in women. This infection is caused by the parasite Trichomonas vaginalis. It can also affect men but does not produce any symptoms in males. Trichomoniasis can cause significant discomfort but usually does not lead to serious complications. However, pregnant women with trichomoniasis increases the chance of giving birth to the baby prematurely.
Past history of trichomoniasis and suffering from other sexually transmitted diseases are the common risk factors for this infection.
Both the partners should be treated at the same time by metronidazole or tinidazole. Proper use of condoms during sexual intercourse helps to prevent the infection.
Symptoms of Trichomoniasis
In most instances, both in males and females, trichomoniasis usually do not produce any symptom. In later stages, women may present with certain symptoms like :
- Profuse discharge from the vagina which is grayish, greenish or yellowish in color.
- Foul smelling vaginal odor associated with the discharge.
- Redness of the genitalia with burning and itchiness.
- Pain during passage of urine and sexual intercourse.
The symptoms usually become worse during menstruation but in some women there may not be any symptoms. Men infected with trichimoniasis rarely show symptoms but if symptoms do become evident it usually does not extend any further than urinary pain.
Trichomoniasis rarely leads to complications but in pregnant women trichomoniasis may lead to :
- Premature birth of baby.
- Delivery of a baby with body weight below normal.
- Transmission of infection to the baby during its passage through the birth canal at the time of delivery.
Trichomoniasis also increases the risk of suffering from other sexually transmitted disease like HIV/AIDS. Prolonged infection in women may lead to changes in the cells of the cervix which becomes evident during Pap smear examination.
Causes of Trichomoniasis
Trichomoniasis is a common disease affecting people throughout the world. In the US, the highest incidence occurs between 16 and 35 years of age. The infecting parasite Trichomonas vaginalis spread through contact between the penis and vagina and even vulva to vulva during intercourse. However, the parasite cannot survive in the oral or rectal cavity.
Apart from humans there are no other reservoirs or secondary host for the Trichomonas parasite. Usually it takes about five to twenty eight days from contracting the infection and manifesting the initial symptoms. Trichomonias is is considered to be the most commonly treated sexually transmitted diseases. The infecting parasite is isolated in about 14% to 60% of male partners of infected women whereas it is about 67% to 100% of female partners of infected males.
The most common explanation regarding why women are more commonly affected is tthe prostatic fluid may be responsible for killing the parasite in males. Also it is suspected that half of the men suffering from infection usually expel the infective parasite outside the body within 14 days whereas in females the organism thrives unless treatment is administered.
Treatment of Trichomoniasis
Trichomoniasis can be effectively treated. It may also be necessary to treat sexual partners at the same time, even if the partners are asymptomatic. The most common drug used for treating trichomoniasis is oral metronidazole at a high dose. This drug is used in both pregnant and non-pregnant women.