Trichomoniasis

Overview

Trichomoniasis, commonly known as trich, is a common sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by a protozoan parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis (TV).

In women, it is associated with foul-smelling vaginal discharge, painful urination, and genital itching.

The majority of men with trichomoniasis do not show any symptoms. Pregnant women with trichomoniasis are likely to deliver underweight or premature babies.

Of all the STDs, trichomoniasis is the most curable.

Facts and Figures

According to the World Health Organization, over 1 million sexually transmitted diseases are acquired every day in the entire world.

Cumulatively, around 357 million people are infected with 1 of the 4 main STIs, namely gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, and trichomoniasis.

A study was conducted in 2016 in Kisumu (Kenya) to substantiate the prevalence of T. vaginalis infection among women aged 15 to 49. A total of 785 women from different ethnic groups participated, and the findings revealed that 15.5% (122) of the participants tested positive for trichomoniasis.

The age group with the highest infection was 15 to 19 years, which means that young girls in Kenya are the most infected with trichomoniasis.

Symptoms

Approximately 70% of people infected with trichomoniasis do not show any signs or symptoms. However, when the symptoms occur, they can vary from mild irritation to severe inflammation. 

A few people show symptoms 5 days to one month after being infected while others do not develop them until much later.

Women with trichomoniasis may notice:

Men with trichomoniasis may notice:

  • Discharge from the penis
  • Burning after ejaculation or urination
  • Irritation or itching inside the penis

Causes

Trich is caused by a parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. The parasite is transmitted from one person to another through:

  • Having vaginal sex without a condom with a partner infected with trichomoniasis
  • Sharing sex toys that are not washed or covered with a new condom every time they are used – however, this is less common.

Note that unlike other forms of STIs, trichomoniasis is not transmitted through oral sex, anal sex, kissing, or hugging. It is not equally transmitted to the fetus or during delivery.

Trich is only transmitted through vaginal sex, and that is why women are at the highest risk, including lesbians. 

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of trichomoniasis is made through the use of a microscope. 

For women, a sample of the vaginal fluid is examined under the microscope while for men; a sample of the urine is used.

Other faster tests used today include nucleic acid amplification and rapid antigen tests.

Treatment

As mentioned, trich is the most curable STD and the most common treatment which is also permissible for pregnant women is swallowing a megadose of either tinidazole (Tindamax) or metronidazole (Flagyl).

Both medications are available in Kenya and can be acquired over-the-counter at a pharmacy/chemist. In certain cases, the doctor may recommend a lower dose of metronidazole, which is two times a day for one week.

Once diagnosed, make sure both yourself and your partner received treatment. Avoid sexual activity until the infection is entirely cured. It might take one week or so.

Do not drink alcohol 24 after using metronidazole or 72 hours after taking tinidazole since it can lead to severe vomiting and nausea.

Trichomoniasis has a tendency or reinfection/recurrence, and thus, your doctor may want to retest you from 2 weeks to 3 months after treatment. 

Untreated trichomoniasis may last for several months to years and may be associated with the following complications:

  • Premature delivery for women
  • Have a baby with a low birth weight
  • Transmit the infection to the infant when passing through the birth canal
  • Increase the chance of other infections such as HIV

Prevention

If you are sexually active, take the following precautions:

  • Engage in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a tested partner who has no STD infection
  • Use latex condom rightly every time you have sex. However, be careful because the parasite may infect the areas that are not covered by the condom.

For more information on treatment, speak to a doctor, or get access to a hospital near you through the Uzima Health App.

Sources

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/sexually-transmitted-infections-(stis)

https://www.avert.org/sex-stis/sexually-transmitted-infections/trichomoniasis

https://www.cdc.gov/std/trichomonas/stdfact-trichomoniasis.htm

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/trichomoniasis/symptoms-causes/syc-20378609

https://www.webmd.com/sexual-conditions/guide/trichomoniasis#1