Trichomoniasis, sometimes referred to as "trich," is a common STD
that affects 3 to 4 million Americans yearly. It is caused by a
single-celled protozoan parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis
Trichomoniasis is primarily an infection of the urogenital tract; the
urethra is the most common site of infection in man, and the vagina
is the most common site of infection in women.
Symptoms. Trichomoniasis, like many other STIs, often occurs
without any symptoms. Men almost never have symptoms. When women have
symptoms, they usually appear within four to 20 days of exposure. The
symptoms in women include a heavy, yellow-green or gray vaginal
discharge, discomfort during intercourse, vaginal odor, and painful
urination. Irritation and itching of the female genital area, and on
rare occasions, lower abdominal pain also can be present. The
symptoms in men, if present, include a thin, whitish discharge from
the penis and painful or difficult urination.
Treatment. Because men can transmit the disease to their sex
partners even when symptoms are not present, it is preferable to
treat both partners to eliminate the parasite. Metronidazole is the
drug used to treat people with trichomoniasis. It usually is
administered in a single dose. People taking this drug should not
drink alcohol because mixing the two substances occasionally can
cause severe nausea and vomiting.
Complications. Research has shown a link between trichomoniasis
and two serious sequelae. Data suggest that trichomoniasis is
associated with increased risk of transmission of HIV and may cause a
woman to deliver a low-birth-weight or premature infant. Additional
research is needed to fully explore these relationships.
Note: All information is based upon materials published by the National
Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAD) and the
U.S. Centers for Disease Control.