Getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) is never fun, especially if that STI is trichomoniasis. While it’s a common infection, trichomoniasis can cause a number of troubling symptoms and some serious stress. We’ve gathered all the essential info on trichomoniasis, so you’ll know how to protect yourself.
What Is Trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis is actually the most common curable STI in the United States. It’s caused by a parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis, and it can spread from one infected person to another during sex. Experts estimate about 3.7 million people are currently infected. Nearly 30% of people never develop any symptoms from trichomoniasis, which means they may never get tested or seek treatment.
What Are the Symptoms of Trichomoniasis?
Women are much more likely to experience symptoms than men are, and those symptoms can be pretty unpleasant. Some of the symptoms to watch out for include:
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- Pain during sex or while urinating
- Itching, burning, or redness in and around the genitals
- Vaginal discharge that’s smelly and green, yellow, gray, or white in color
It’s possible for these symptoms to be caused by other conditions, but if you experience them you should get tested for trichomoniasis. Men, on the other hand, rarely experience symptoms from trichomoniasis. As a result, they may not know to seek treatment and can easily spread the infection to others.
Who’s at Risk for Trichomoniasis?
Women are more likely to get diagnosed with trichomoniasis, but that may be because they experience more symptoms than men and that drives them to seek testing and treatment. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 2 million women between 14 and 49 have trichomoniasis. Risk factors include having a history of other STIs and having sex without a condom.
How Is Trichomoniasis Treated?
Luckily, treatment for trichomoniasis is usually pretty simple. You’ll need to take an antibiotic to kill the parasite — typically metronidazole or tinidazole. Both you and anyone you’ve had sex with should be treated, as there’s a chance they also have an infection. You’ll need to hold off on sex until you’ve finished your antibiotics, so you don’t pass the infection on to others.
Keep in mind that one in five people get infected with trichomoniasis again within three months of their initial treatment, so be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions and tell any sex partners to also get tested. Otherwise, you could just keep passing the parasite back and forth to one another.
How Can You Prevent Trichomoniasis?
The best way to prevent trichomoniasis is to use a condom during sex — condoms don’t offer 100% protection, but they lower your chances of getting the parasite. Regular STI screening will ensure you discover infections like trichomoniasis early. The Nurx Healthy Woman STI Home Test Kit contains a simple trichomoniasis test you can do at home, along with tests for other STIs that often affect female bodies.
Keep in mind that even if you’re on birth control, you can still get trichomoniasis and other STIs. While birth control methods like Yaz or NuvaRing are great for preventing pregnancy, they don’t stop the spread of STIs. Condoms are the only real way to help prevent most STIs when having sex.
If you suspect you have a trichomoniasis infection, see your medical professional or test yourself at home. While it’s not a life-threatening condition, you still want to get it treated so you don’t pass it on to anyone else and so you can stop uncomfortable symptoms.
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