What is trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis is an infection of the vagina and penis. It is a sexually transmitted disease that can be treated and does not cause any serious permanent damage. However, if a pregnant woman is infected and does not get treated, the disease can cause premature delivery and low birth weight in the baby.
How does it occur?
A tiny organism called Trichomonas vaginalis causes the infection. Sexual partners not using condoms can spread these organisms to each other during sex.
It may live inside the host for years without producing symptoms.
What are the symptoms?
Many women infected with Trichomonas do not have any symptoms. When they do have symptoms, the most common ones are:
- frothy, green or yellow, foul or strong smelling vaginal discharge
- itching, redness, and soreness of the vagina
- burning when going to the bathroom
- pain during sex.
Men usually do not have symptoms. When they do, the most common symptom is irritation at the tip of the penis.
How is it diagnosed?
Dr. Hardy or the Nurse Practitioner will ask about your symptoms and examine you. You will have a sample of fluid from the vagina taken and examined under a microscope to see if Trichomonads are present. You should also be tested for other infections.
How is it treated?
Trichomoniasis is treated with a medicine called Flagyl. If you may be or are pregnant, tell your health care provider. This medicine should not be used during the first 3 months of pregnancy.
Do not drink any alcohol while you are taking Flagyl and for 2 days after you finish the medication. Drinking alcohol while you are taking Flagyl may cause a severe nausea.
Flagyl may be taken with food to prevent nausea and vomiting (possible side effects of the drug). Your sexual partner(s) should also be treated.
How long will the effects last?
For most people, the symptoms disappear less than 1 week after treatment.
How can I take care of myself?
Tell everyone with whom you have had sex in the last 3 months about your infection. They must also be treated with Flagyl, even if they have no symptoms. Do not have sex until your symptoms are gone and both you and your partner have finished your treatment.
Because trichomonas is sexually transmitted, there are ways that you can help prevent this infection. Use of latex or polyurethane condoms are the only way to protect against trichomoniasis. In addition, you are less likely to get an STD if you have just one sexual partner.
When should I call the office?
Call during office hours if:
- Your symptoms last more than 7 days.
- You have other questions or concerns.