Never heard of it? The name may not be familiar, but this nasty little STI is more common than you think.
What is trichomonas?
It may sound like an Italian salad, but trichomonas, trichomoniasis, or trich (pronounced trick), is a contagious STI caused by a tiny parasite Trichomonas vaginalis (TV). It’s passed on through unprotected sex and in rare cases by sharing sex toys.
How do I know I’ve got trichomonas?
Like many other STIs, there may be no symptoms at all – especially in men – but for those who do develop symptoms they normally appear from three to 21 days after infection.
What are the symptoms of trichomonas?
Generally, the symptoms are much worse for women and can be similar to gonorrhoea. A yellowy/greenish smelly vaginal discharge is one of the first signs, followed by soreness, inflammation and itching in and around the vagina; pain when peeing; pain when having sex; and pain in the lower abdominal.
For men, there may be a discharge from the penis; pain or a burning sensation when peeing; and, on rare occasions, inflammation of the bellend or foreskin.
Can I get tested for trichomonas if I don’t have any symptoms?
The infection will show up a few days after having sex with an infected partner, so you can get tested for trichomonas even if you don’t have symptoms. Sometimes it’s possible to get your results straight away, but most clinics have a 10-day turnaround.
How is trichomonas treated?
Despite the unpronounceable name trichomonas is a common STI that’s easily treatable. You’ll need to go to your nearest genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic or see your doctor (GP) for a swab test; sometimes it can be picked up in a smear test in women. A lot of people infected with trichomonas also have gonorrhoea, so you may be tested for this too.
Caught early, it can be cured with antibiotics (usually Metronidazole) either as a single dose or a longer course (up to a week). To avoid re-infection, any sexual partners should also be treated.
What if I ignore it?
Despite the fishy discharge, itching and soreness associated with trichomonas ignoring it doesn’t pose any major health risks. In fact, in some cases the infection clears up by itself. But predicting whether or not it will clear by itself is a guessing game that’s probably not worth playing.
If you’re pregnant, however, there’s a risk of passing trichomoniasis onto your baby. And for men, it can cause prostatinitis (an infection of the prostate gland), but this is extremely rare.
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Updated on 29-Sep-2015
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