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What is trichomoniasis? Trichomoniasis, or “trich,” is a very common, treatable sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the Trichomonas vaginalis parasite, a tiny organism.

How common is trichomoniasis? In the U.S., over two million cases occurred in 2018. But, only about 30% show symptoms, and it’s more common in women and older individuals.

How is trichomoniasis spread? It spreads through unprotected sex with an infected partner. In women, it affects the lower genital tract. In men, it’s mainly in the penis. During sex, it can pass from one to another, even between vaginas. It’s rare in other body parts. Some get symptoms; others don’t.

Signs and symptoms of trichomoniasis Around 70% have no symptoms. When present, they range from mild irritation to severe inflammation. Symptoms can appear 5 to 28 days after infection or much later. They can come and go.

In men:

  • Itching or irritation inside the penis.
  • Burning after urinating or ejaculating.
  • Penis discharge.

In women:

  • Genital itching, burning, redness, or soreness.
  • Discomfort when urinating.
  • Vaginal discharge (clear, white, yellowish, or greenish) with a fishy smell.

Untreated, trichomoniasis can last months or years.

Complications of trichomoniasis It increases the risk of other STDs and can cause genital inflammation, making it easier to get or pass HIV.

Effect on pregnancy Pregnant individuals with trich have a higher chance of premature birth and low birth weight in their babies.

Diagnosis It can’t be diagnosed solely by symptoms. A healthcare provider examines you, and a lab test confirms it.

Treatment Trichomoniasis is curable with medication (oral pills) provided by a healthcare provider. Pregnant individuals can also be treated safely. Reinfection is possible, so sex partners should get treated together.

Prevention The only surefire way to prevent STDs is abstaining from sex. If sexually active, consider:

  • A monogamous relationship with an tested partner.
  • Proper condom use.
  • Discussing STD risk with new partners.

Talk to your GP if you’re sexually active to decide if you need testing.

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