Trichomoniasis is a common sexually transmitted infection. Here are some of the effective tips which can help prevent it from spreading.

Have you been experiencing any itchiness, burning or unpleasant vaginal discharge after having sexual intercourse? It could be due to trichomoniasis. Also known as trich, it is a condition caused by a small parasite. It is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can be communicated via vaginal, oral, or anal sex, and even just skin-to-skin contact in the genital area. While many people may not experience any symptoms, trich can cause irritation, burning sensation, and an unpleasant discharge. There are precautions you can take to prevent it from happening in the first place, such as wearing condoms and limiting your number of sexual partners. Here is everything you need to know about causes, symptoms and other ways to prevent trichomoniasis.

What is trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the parasite trichomonas vaginalis. It is one of the most common and curable STIs. Common symptoms which women may experience are vaginal discharge (which can be clear, white, yellowish, or greenish), genital itching, lower abdominal pain, burning during urination, and an unpleasant odour. Some women might also experience pain during intercourse, as found in a study published in the StatPearls Journal. It is important to note that trichomoniasis primarily spreads through vaginal, oral, or anal sex with an infected partner. The parasite can be transmitted even if the infected person has no symptoms.

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Trichomoniasis is a commons sexually transmitted disease! Image courtesy: Freepik

Trichomoniasis is a common and treatable STI, but awareness and proper sexual health practices are crucial for prevention and early detection. It is diagnosed through a physical exam, lab tests, and microscopic examination of a sample of vaginal fluid (for women) or a urine sample (for men). To detect infection, the parasite is looked for under a microscope in the vaginal discharge or urethral discharge which has been collected by the doctor for testing. If the parasite is seen, no further tests are required. If however, the parasite isn’t seen and symptoms are suggestive of TV, other tests which can be done are rapid antigen tests or nucleic acid amplification tests, says obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Pooja C Thukral.

Symptoms of trichomoniasis

Here are some of the common symptoms of trichomoniasis, as found in a study published in the Journal of Family Medicine and Prevention Care.

Symptoms in women

  • Vaginal discharge: Often frothy, yellow-green, and may have a strong, unpleasant odour.
  • Vaginal itching and irritation: Persistent itching and discomfort in the vaginal area.
  • Pain during urination: Burning sensation while urinating.
  • Pain during intercourse: Discomfort or pain during sexual activities.
  • Vaginal redness and swelling: Inflammation of the vaginal and vulvar tissue.
  • Lower abdomen pain

Symptoms in men

  • Urethral discharge: A thin, whitish discharge from the penis.
  • Burning sensation during urination or ejaculation: Pain or discomfort while urinating or during ejaculation.
  • Irritation inside the penis: Itching or irritation inside the penis.

Causes of trichomoniasis

Here are some of the causes of trichomoniasis, as explained by the expert.

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1. Sexual contact

The most common mode of transmission is through vaginal intercourse with an infected partner. However, one can also get infected through oral and anal sex though it is less common but can be possible routes of transmission.

2. Sharing sex toys

Using sex toys contaminated with the parasite and not properly cleaned or shared without using a condom can transmit trichomonas vaginalis.

3. Multiple sexual partners

Having multiple sexual partners increases the risk of contracting of trichomoniasis.

4. Unprotected sex

Not using condoms during sex increases the risk of transmission of many sexually transmitted infections. Thus, it is highly advisable to use condoms before getting intimate.

5. Previous or concurrent STIs

Having other sexually transmitted infections can increase susceptibility to trichomoniasis.

How to prevent trichomoniasis?

Preventing trichomoniasis involves adopting safe sexual practices and being proactive about sexual health. Here are some prevention tips, as explained by the expert.

1. Consistent and correct use of condoms

Using latex or polyurethane condoms during vaginal, anal, and oral sex significantly reduces the risk of transmitting trichomoniasis. Ensure that condoms are used correctly from the beginning to the end of sexual activity. Check the expiration date and ensure the condom is not damaged.

2. Regular STI screenings

Regular screenings for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including trichomoniasis, help in early detection and treatment. Also, both partners should get tested before starting a new sexual relationship to ensure neither has an undiagnosed STI.

3. Limit number of sexual partners

Being in a mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has tested negative for STIs can significantly reduce the risk. Limiting the number of sexual partners reduces the chance of encountering an infected individual.

4. Prompt treatment of infections

If diagnosed with trichomoniasis or any other STI, seek immediate treatment to prevent spreading the infection to others. And also, inform all recent sexual partners if diagnosed with trichomoniasis so they can get tested and treated, preventing reinfection.

5. Avoid sharing sex toys

Do not share sex toys with others. If sharing, ensure they are thoroughly cleaned and covered with a new condom for each use. Follow manufacturer instructions for cleaning sex toys and use appropriate disinfectants to eliminate any potential pathogens.

6. Communication and education

Have honest conversations with sexual partners about sexual history, STI testing, and prevention strategies. Stay informed about STIs, their transmission, and prevention methods. Educating yourself and your partners can lead to better protective measures.

Couple lying on bed and looking at each other
Educate yourself to fight against sexually transmitted infections! Image courtesy: Freepik

7. Practice abstinence or delaying sexual activity

Abstaining from sex is the most effective way to prevent trichomoniasis and other STIs. Delaying the start of sexual activity until you are in a committed relationship where both partners have been tested can reduce the risk.

Things to keep in mind!

The antibiotics are given as one single dose or in divided doses. It is important to complete the antibiotic course even if you feel better quickly. It is also important to treat the partner at the same time to prevent re-infection. But most importantly you should consult your doctor before taking the antibiotic doses.

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