Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted disease which you rarely hear about in the media. This condition is highly contagious when having unprotected sex with an infected person, and it’s symptoms are often quite similar to those of other sexually transmitted diseases. Symptoms are more common in women with this condition than men, but men may have some discharge from the penis and painful urination. Women tend to experience symptoms such as urinary frequency and pain during when urinating (similar to a urinary tract infection), discharge from the vagina which is often described as “foamy,” a persistent urge to itch in the vaginal area, and foul odor emitting from the vagina.
Because the symptoms of trichomaniasis are so similar to other sexually transmitted diseases, it is easy for doctors to suspect a different condition when examining symptoms. Different medical tests are often the easiest way to determine what STD is present in a patient when one is suspected. Common sexually transmitted diseases, such as chlamydia, are typically tested with a urine sample. Trichomoniasis, on the other hand, is usually tested by a microscopic sample taken from a vaginal swab in women.
In men, the condition can be much more difficult to diagnose. Diagnostic tests are still being developed for this condition, but doctors may examine the symptoms and try to rule out other STD conditions before testing further to determine if trichomoniasis is the problem. The low sensitivity of many diagnostic tests for this condition has long been a problem for doctors, and this is the reason why many researchers are trying to find new methods of diagnosing this STD.
There are many cases of trichomoniasis which do not present symptoms until months after infection. Other cases can cause symptoms to occur in as little as one week after sexual contact with an infected person. This really depends on the immune system of the person who acquired the infection and how successful their body is at fighting the infection before symptoms begin to occur.
Trichomoniasis parasite visible at the very top of the image.
Close-up view of the trichomoniasis parasite.
Trichomoniasis can usually be treated with medication which a doctor can prescribe after they have concluded that this condition is the cause of the patient’s symptoms. Without treatment, women are often at a higher risk for developing cervical cancer. Men who do not seek treatment could potentially experience urinary tract problems, but some may even be able to eliminate the parasite which causes the condition from their body through the urine within a few weeks. If the infection lingers in a man, it is theorized that it could potentially lead to an increased risk of prostate cancer.
The best way for many people to prevent this STD is by using condoms when having sex with partners they are not sure about the medical history of. Of course, not all unprotected sex will result in STD transmission, but there is often a risk of catching a disease from someone if you are not sure where they have been. Some medical researchers estimate that trichomoniasis is becoming the most commonly reported STD each year, with over 7 million cases reported annually, on average.