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Trichomoniasis, also simply called “trich” is the most frequent easily curable sexually transmitted disease in the United States. It's caused by an infection with the parasite Trichomonas Vaginalis, and though some people experience symptoms, others do not and remain unaware that they were infected. Trichomoniasis is yet another reason to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases regularly, regardless of your relationship status and whether you have any symptoms.
Trichomoniasis — What's That, And How Do You Catch It?
Trichomoniasis is an STD, so the parasite Trichomonas Vaginalis is passed on through sexual contact. Heterosexual transmission is most common, though woman-to-woman transmission can also happen. Trich rarely affects body parts that are not genitals, so the anus and throat are relatively safe. In women, trich is most commonly found in the vagina, on the vulva, and in the urethra. In men, the urethra is by far the most frequently infected part of the genitals.
Trichomonas Vaginalis may be a parasite, but that doesn't mean you will see little creepy crawlies hanging out in your crotch. The parasites are so tiny that they can only be seen under a microscope.
It is possible for the parasite to spread through parts of the genitals that are not covered by the condom, and the same holds true for many other STDs, including genital herpes and genital warts.
Not having sex at all is the only way to prevent trichomoniasis and other sexually transmitted diseases. Only being intimate with one partner, who is also monogamous, is the second-best option. It's not completely safe for two reasons, though — people do become unfaithful sometimes and when they do, they rarely tell their partners, and apart from that it is possible that one of you picked an STD up during a previous relationship.
Up to 70% of all people infected by trich do not have any noticeable symptoms
Those who do develop symptoms may do so shortly after they were infected, or may not have symptoms until much later on. The symptoms can come and go, and by the time you start paying attention to them it is entirely possible that the idea that you could have an STD does not even occur to you.
Women are more likely to have trichomoniasis symptoms than men. They may be bothered by itching, burning, a red or sore vulva and pain while urinating. Unusual vaginal discharge, in colors like green or yellow, can also be a symptom. Men with trich symptoms tend to have a burning and itching sensation inside the penis. They can have penile discharge as well, and may be in pain after ejaculating.
Trichomoniasis can remain with you for a long time if you don't get treatment — we're not talking weeks, but months or even years. There are some possible complications, including a higher risk of preterm birth and a low birth weight for babies of moms who have the STD. The most significant threat trichomoniasis poses is the fact that it makes you more vulnerable to other, more serious STDs including HIV. This is mostly due to the genital inflammation trich causes; it literally opens the door to viruses.
Some studies also indicate that trichomoniasis increases the risk of cervical cancer and prostate cancer, again because of the inflammation caused by the parasite. This still needs to be explored in further research before it can be called a fact.