Trichomoniasis, sometimes referred to as "trich", is a common sexually transmitted disease (STD). It is caused by the single-celled protozoan parasite Trichomonas vaginalis. Trichomoniasis is primarily an infection of the genitourinary tract; the most common site of infection is the urethra and the vagina in women. It is most common in women and uncircumcised men. For uncircumcised men, the most common site for the infection is the tip of the penis.
Typically, only women experience symptoms associated with Trichomonas
- *Vaginitis - itching, burning, and inflammation of the vagina
- *Cervicitis - inflammation of the cervix
- *Urethritis - inflammation of the urethra
- *Green/Yellow, frothy vaginal discharge
Most men with trichomoniasis do not have signs or symptoms; however, some men may temporarily have an irritation inside the penis, mild discharge, or slight burning after urination or ejaculation.
Some women have signs or symptoms of infection which include a frothy, yellow-green vaginal discharge with a strong odor. The infection also may cause discomfort during intercourse and urination, as well as irritation and itching of the female genital area. In rare cases, lower abdominal pain can occur. Symptoms usually appear in women within 5 to 28 days of exposure.
Trichomoniasis is diagnosed by visually observing the trichomonads
via a microscope. In women, the doctor collects the specimen during a pelvic examination by inserting a speculum
into the vagina and then using a cotton-tipped applicator to collect the sample. The sample is then placed onto a microscopic slide and sent to a laboratory to be analyzed. An examination in the presence of trichomoniasis may also reveal small red ulcerations on the vaginal wall or cervix; if occuring on the cervix, is termed "strawberry cervix."
A draft sequence of the Trichomoniasis genome
was published on January 12, 2007 in the journal Science
confirming that the genome has at least 26,000 genes
, a similar number to the human genome
Treatment for both pregnant and non-pregnant patients utilizes metronidazole (Flagyl) 500mg oral 2-3 times per day for 7-10 days. Sexual partners, even if asymptomatic, should be concurrently treated.
Research has shown a link between trichomoniasis and two serious sequelæ
. Data suggest that:
- Trichomoniasis is associated with increased risk of transmission of HIV.
- Trichomoniasis may cause a woman to deliver a low-birth-weight or premature infant.
Additional research is needed to fully explore these relationships.
Prevalence and prevention
The American Social Health Association
estimates trichomoniasis affects 7.4 million previously unaffected Americans each year and is the most frequently presenting new infection of the common sexually transmitted diseases.
Use of male condoms may help prevent the spread of trichomoniasis, although careful studies have never been done that focus on how to prevent this infection. Refraining from sharing swimsuits or towels may also help as trichomonads survive for up to 45 minutes outside of the body. Treatment is usually Metronidazole.