Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection that in women can cause a foul-smelling vaginal discharge, genital itching and painful urination. Men who have trichomoniasis typically have no symptoms. Pregnant women who have trichomoniasis are at higher risk of delivering prematurely.

To prevent reinfection with the organism that causes trichomoniasis, both partners should be treated. The most common treatment for trichomoniasis involves taking one megadose of metronidazole (Flagyl). You can reduce your risk of infection by using condoms correctly every time you have sex.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications Prevention

Many women and most men with trichomoniasis have no symptoms, at least not at first. Trichomoniasis signs and symptoms for women include:

  • A profuse and often foul-smelling vaginal discharge — which may be white, gray, yellow or green
  • Genital redness, burning and itching
  • Pain with urination or sexual intercourse

Signs and symptoms may worsen during menstruation. But some women who have trichomoniasis don't have any symptoms. Men who have trichomoniasis rarely exhibit symptoms, but when they do, it's usually painful urination.

When to see a doctor

See your doctor if you have a foul-smelling vaginal discharge or if you experience pain with urination or sexual intercourse.

Trichomoniasis is caused by a one-celled protozoan, a type of tiny parasite, that travels between people during sexual intercourse. The incubation period between exposure and infection can range from five to 28 days.

Risk factors include:

  • Having multiple sexual partners
  • History of other sexually transmitted diseases
  • Previous episode of trichomoniasis

Pregnant women who have trichomoniasis may:

  • Deliver prematurely
  • Have a baby with a low birth weight
  • Transmit the infection to the baby as it passes through the birth canal

Having trichomoniasis also appears to make it easier for women to become infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

The method of preventing trichomoniasis is the same as those for preventing other sexually transmitted infections — abstain from sex. To lower your risk, use condoms correctly every time you have sex.

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