A unicellular protozoan parasite causes trichomoniasis, and it is generally transmitted during unprotected sexual contact, explains Mayo Clinic. Risk factors for the condition include having multiple sexual partners, a previous trichomoniasis infection or a history of other sexually transmitted infections.
The symptoms of trichomoniasis mostly occur in women and include genital itching, painful urination and a profuse colored discharge with a foul smell, Mayo Clinic states. Men can contract trichomoniasis without showing any symptoms, and both sexual partners need treatment if one of them contracts the disease. When symptoms arise in men, they include irritation inside the penis, painful ejaculation, painful urination and an unusual discharge. It takes between five and 28 days for trichomoniasis symptoms to manifest after the initial infection.
Trichomoniasis is especially harmful to pregnant women and their unborn offspring, says Mayo Clinic. Pregnant women infected with trichomoniasis are at a higher risk of giving birth prematurely, and newborns from mothers with the disease have a greater chance of having a low birth weight. The mother can also transmit the disease to a newborn as the newborn passes through the birth canal. The most common method to treat trichomoniasis is a single, extremely large dose of metronidazole.