Visit ASHA's Ask the Experts online for more insightful Q&A's around sexually transmitted infections: http://www.ashastd.org/std-sti/ask-the-experts/ask-the-experts-stds-stis.html
Question: I’m confused about trichomoniasis. The ASHA site and others say it’s one of the most common infections out there, but I’ve never heard of it. I’ve had STI tests done in the past, for HIV and chlamydia, but no one has ever mentioned trichomoniasis with me. How can it be so common if I’ve never heard of it? How do you test for it?
Trichomoniasis or “trich” is actually a parasite (called Trichomonas vaginalis) and is perhaps the most common, curable sexually transmitted infection among young women. An estimated 7-8 million cases of trich occur in the U.S. each year. Trich doesn’t get much as much publicity as other STI because we’re just beginning to learn how important it is.
Trich probably deserves more attention. It can cause an unpleasant discharge, and a lot of vaginal irritation. Trich always stays in the vagina so it doesn’t cause infections in other parts of a woman’s body. However, trich is associated with both premature delivery and low birth weight babies. Also, people with trich get infected more easily with STIs like chlamydia and HIV, and trich makes it easier to transmit these infections to others. Untreated trich infections can last months or even years, without causing any symptoms.
One of the things we’ve learned about trich is how to do a better job with diagnosis. For many years, the diagnosis was made by using a microscope to look for the parasite in the vaginal fluid. Unfortunately, this test often misses the diagnosis. More recently, much more accurate tests have become available. Men get trich too but usually don’t have any symptoms. So, men usually find out from a sex partner.
Trich is curable, but it can come back unless both partners are treated before they have sex again. Treatment should be taken even if there are no symptoms of trich. The antibiotics used to treat trich (they are called metronidazole or tinidazole) work very well. However, some trich has become more resistant to these antibiotics, so it’s important to take all of the medication that is prescribed, make sure partners are treated, and get checked again if the symptoms come back (or don’t go away).
--J. Dennis Fortenberry, MD, MSPosted by Fredo