Trichomonas infection is a sexually transmitted disease caused by a parasite. It can cause a burning, painful sensation when urinating. This parasite can also cause itching, and in rare cases, can lead to complications such as infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and even death.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 2.6 Million men and women in the United States have trichomoniasis.
What are the symptoms of trichomoniasis?
- Burning, painful urination
- Unusual discharge
- Irritation of the penis
What causes trichomoniasis?
Trichomonas is a parasite that enters your body through your penis, vagina, or rectum. It can also be spread through sexual contact.
The parasite lives in your body for about three days, and then it leaves your body through your bowel movements.
You can get trichomoniasis at any age, but it’s most common in:
- People who haven’t had sex
- People who have multiple sexual partners
- People who have unprotected sex
What are the risk factors for trichomoniasis?
Risk factors that can increase your chances of getting trichomoniasis include:
- Having multiple sexual partners
- Having unprotected sex
- Having a penis that is uncircumcised
- Having a vagina with the wrong type of bacteria
- Having a vagina with a bacterial imbalance
How is trichomoniasis diagnosed?
To diagnose trichomoniasis, your doctor will ask about your symptoms. They will also perform a physical exam.
Your doctor may also ask about the sexual history of your partner.
If you have symptoms, your doctor may order a urine sample to check for trichomonas. They will also do a blood test to determine if you have a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
How is trichomoniasis treated?
You may not need treatment for trichomoniasis if you have no symptoms. But if you do have symptoms, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics.
The antibiotic will need to be taken for a few weeks. Your doctor may also recommend other treatments, such as:
- Lubricants that can ease the pain of a burning sensation when urinating
- Sitz baths, which are baths that are warm water in a plastic tub with a towel on the bottom
- An enema, which is a solution that contains a medication that can help you pass stools
If you have symptoms of trichomoniasis, your doctor may also prescribe:
What’s the outlook for people with trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis is a chronic condition. But it can be cured with treatment.
If you have symptoms of trichomoniasis, your doctor will treat it with a course of antibiotics. They’ll also recommend other treatments, such as lubricants, to help you pass stools.
It’s also possible for the parasite to go away on its own. But if you have no symptoms, your doctor will treat your infection with antibiotics.
Your doctor will likely prescribe a course of antibiotics for 36 months. They’ll likely also prescribe you one more round of antibiotics if trichomoniasis doesn’t clear up after a year.
Your doctor will follow up with you every three months to make sure that your infection hasn’t reoccurred.
If you don’t have symptoms for a long time, your doctor will likely prescribe you an antibiotic that you’ll take for life.
How can trichomoniasis be prevented?
The best way to prevent trichomoniasis is to abstain from sex.
But if you’re having unprotected sex with multiple partners, you can lower your chances of contracting trichomoniasis by practicing safe sex.
Safe sex means using a condom or other barrier method every time you have sex. You should also use a condom or other barrier method every time you have oral sex.
If you’re having unprotected sex, only have sex with a partner who is also in a monogamous relationship.
Practicing safe sex is also important if you have a penis that’s uncircumcised. This is because uncircumcised penises can harbor bacteria that can lead to trichomoniasis.
Other ways to prevent trichomoniasis include:
- Avoiding direct contact with the infected area, such as your hands, mouth, or genitals
- Using a condom or other barrier method
- Avoiding sex with multiple partners
When should you see a doctor?
If you’re having symptoms of trichomoniasis, see your doctor right away. You should also see your doctor if you think you have a sexually transmitted infection.
Your doctor will perform a physical exam to check for signs of trichomoniasis. They may also order a urine test or a blood test to check for STIs.
Your doctor may also order a swab to check for the parasite. This process is called a KOH test.
You should also see your doctor if you have any symptoms of trichomoniasis or any other related symptoms that aren’t treated. This includes:
- Burning sensation when urinating or after sex
- Erectile dysfunction
- Painful urination
- Pelvic pain
- Rectal pain
The best way to prevent trichomoniasis is to practice safe sex.
If you’re having sex with multiple partners, you can lower your chances of contracting trichomoniasis by practicing safe sex.
Trichomoniasis can be cured with antibiotics. The infection usually goes away on its own, but you should also take precautions to avoid contracting another STI.
Also, talk to your doctor if you have symptoms of trichomoniasis. They can recommend other treatments to help you pass stools and ease the pain of a burning sensation when urinating.
The outlook for people with trichomoniasis depends on how severe the infection is. If you have no symptoms, you can treat the infection with antibiotics for 36 months.
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