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Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
 
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Trichomoniasis

AGE  Can affect sexually active people of any ageGENDER  Not significant factors
LIFESTYLE  Unprotected sex with multiple partners is a risk factorGENETICS  Not significant factors

Trichomoniasis is a genital tract infection that may cause inflammation and a discharge in women or, less commonly, in men.

Trichomoniasis
© Thinkstock

Trichomoniasis is an infection caused by the protozoan Trichomonas vaginalis. In women, this infection may cause vulvovaginitis, inflammation in and around the vagina, which may lead to a profuse vaginal discharge and to cystitis.

In men, the infection may cause mild inflammation of the urethra (the tube from the bladder to the outside of the body) and occasionally results in nongonococcal urethritis.

In most cases, trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection, but an infected pregnant woman may pass the infection to her baby during birth (see Congenital infections).

What are the symptoms of trichomoniasis?

Some women have no symptoms, and the infection may only be detected on a routine smear test. If symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • Profuse, yellow, frothy, and offensive-smelling discharge from the vagina.
  • Painful inflammation of the vagina.
  • Itching and soreness of the vulva (the skin around the vagina).
  • Burning sensation on passing urine.
  • Discomfort during intercourse.

Men, usually have no symptoms, but if present, they may include:

  • Discomfort on passing urine.
  • Discharge from the penis.

If you or your partner develop any of these symptoms, go to a clinic specializing in STIs or consult your doctor.

What might be done?

Swabs will be taken from infected areas and tested for the presence of the protozoan. You will probably be tested for other STIs at the same time. If you have trichomoniasis, you will be prescribed antibiotics. Sexual partners, and babies who are born to infected mothers, should also be tested and treated, even if they have no symptoms.

Can trichomoniasis be prevented?

You can reduce your risk of contracting trichomoniasis by practising safe sex (see Preventing STIs). If you or your partner have been infected, you should avoid spreading the infection further by abstaining from sexual contact until you have both finished your course of drug treatment and your doctor has confirmed that the infection has cleared up completely.

Posted 04.05.2011


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