What Does Trichomoniasis Look Like?
What Is Trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection, or an STI, which is known to be very common. In the United States alone, there are around four million cases of individuals being infected with trichomoniasis at any point in time. This infection, however, can be treated easily. The infection is said to be caused by a parasite, and it can affect both men and women. Trichomoniasis is mostly spread through sexual contact. Many a times, the individuals who have this infection are not even aware of its symptoms.
Trichomoniasis can spread either through genitals touching or through sexual contact. Sexual contact can be in any form, be it vaginal, oral, or anal. In the case of genitals touching, a man would not need to ejaculate for the spread of this infection; instead, it can just be spread between women who have sex with other women. When it comes to the spread of this infection through sexual contact, there are chances that trichomoniasis can spread without the presence of any symptoms, and this would mean that one individual can get trichomoniasis even when the infected person does not show any kind of signs or symptoms regarding the infection.
Very commonly, trichomoniasis, is seen more often in women than in men, and it is said to affect African-American women more than Hispanic or white women. As the African-American woman ages and the lifetime number of sex partners increases, their risk of getting this infection also increases.
An estimated one million cases come up every year reporting trichomoniasis. There are about 2 to 3 million cases of women who are infected with the infection in the age group of 14 to 49 years of age. It has been seen as a common occurrence in women who are elderly more than in younger ones. In one set of research, it was reported that women who are above 40 years of age have double the chance of getting this infection. An individual’s chance of getting this infection would increase if:
- They have multiple sex partners
- There has been a medical history of any other form of sexually transmitted infection
- There was a previous case of trichomoniasis
- They have unprotected sex or sexual intercourse without the use of a condom
Most of the time, trichomoniasis would not reflect any noticeable symptoms or signs to the individual who has been infected. In one of the reports provided by the CDC, there have been only 30 to 40 percent of individuals with the infection who have reported any kind of symptoms. Around 80 percent of women who were found to be suffering with this infection did not report any kind of symptoms. However, when the symptoms do occur, they are known to begin mostly about 5 to 30 days after the individual has been infected, but, in certain individuals, it would take a longer time. Below are a few of the common symptoms that are experienced by women suffering from trichomoniasis.
- Spotting or bleeding from the vagina
- Redness as well as swelling of the genital region
- There is vaginal discharge that can be of any color, such as green, white, yellow, or gray, and most of the times it has a smell that is unpleasant, with a frothy appearance.
- The woman would feel a frequent urge to urinate.
- During urination, they would feel pain or a burning sensation.
- The genital region can be itching or burning.
- Pain can be also experienced during sexual intercourse.
Certain women may also suffer from strawberry cervix, wherein lesions are known to form on the cervix as well as the vaginal walls, thereby giving it a red appearance.
In the case of men, below are the symptoms they may experience:
- There would be discharge from the urethra.
- There would be a frequent urge to urinate.
- During ejaculation or urination, a few men may experience a burning sensation.
Trichomoniasis is known to be caused due to a one-celled protozoan organism called Trichomonas vaginalis. This organism is known to travel from one person to another through genital contact, which can mostly happen during sexual intercourse. When it occurs in women, this organism is known to cause the infection in the vagina, urethra, or, at times, both, but in the case of men, it can happen only in the urethra. Once this infection starts, it can be easily spread through having unprotected contact with the genital region. One should note that this infection does not spread through normal contact such as kissing, hugging, sharing of dishes, or by sitting on the same toilet seat. In addition, it cannot be spread through sexual contact wherein the genital regions do not come into contact with each other.
The symptoms of trichomoniasis are very similar to other forms of sexually transmitted infections, hence, it becomes difficult to diagnose with just the symptoms alone. It is important to visit the doctor for a thorough physical examination as well as carry out any kind of laboratory tests or procedures as suggested by the doctor in case there is any doubt about having the infection. There are a varied number of tests which can help in the diagnosis of trichomoniasis, and they include:
- Culture of the cells
- Tests wherein they would look for the DNA of Trichomonas
- Antigen tests, wherein the antibodies would bind in case there is the presence of the Trichomonas parasite. This would lead to a color change that would provide an indication of the infection.
- Vaginal fluid samples would be examined in the case of women, and in the case of men, it would be an examination of the urethral discharge, which would be carried out under a microscope.
With the help of antibiotics, one can get trichomoniasis cured completely. The doctor can recommend to start taking metronidazole or tindazole. Be sure that during the medication treatment, one should avoid the intake of alcohol for the initial 24 hours, or else it can lead to severe cases of nausea and vomiting. It becomes important to be sure that one’s sexual partners are tested in a timely manner for any presence of infection, and also, medications should be started if they have the infection, too. If there are no symptoms, it does not necessarily mean that there is no infection. Sexual contact should be avoided for a week’s time until all the partners have been treated completely for the elimination of the infection, or else it can occur again.
An infection of trichomoniasis can make it very easy to get other forms of infection as well. The genital inflammation, which is caused due to trichomoniasis, can also increase the risk of the individual getting HIV in addition to other sexually transmitted infections. Also, at the same time, it would become easier for the individual to spread the virus to another person when they are already infected with trichomoniasis. A few of the other conditions, such as bacterial vaginosis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia, are also known to occur if the individual is infected with trichomoniasis. If this infection is not treated properly, it can lead to the occurrence of PID, or pelvic inflammatory disease. A few of the complications caused due to PID are infertility in the individual, blockage of the fallopian tube due to the scar tissue, and, lastly, pain in the pelvic region, or chronic pain in the abdomen.