What Is Trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis is an infection caused by a parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. The disease is spread through sexual activity and typically treated with the prescription drug metronidazole. The disease is more common in women than in men. Symptoms, if present, include foul-smelling gray or yellow-green vaginal discharge and a frequent desire to urinate.
Trichomonas vaginalis is a microscopic parasite found worldwide. Infection with Trichomonas is called trichomoniasis (trick-oh-moe-nye-uh-sis). Trichomoniasis is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), mainly affecting sexually active women. In North America, it is estimated that more than 8 million new cases are reported each year.
This disease is spread through sexual activity. Infection is more common in women who have had multiple sexual partners.
A common misbelief is that infection can be spread by a toilet seat. This isn't likely, since the Trichomonas parasite cannot live long in the environment or on objects.
Not all people with trichomoniasis have symptoms. However, some of the more common symptoms of infection are described in the following sections.
Symptoms in Women
In women, symptoms of trichomoniasis range from having no symptoms (asymptomatic) to severe symptoms. Typical symptoms include:
- Foul-smelling or frothy green discharge from the vagina
- Vaginal itching
Other signs can include painful sexual intercourse, lower abdominal discomfort, and the urge to urinate.
The onset of symptoms, such as vaginal or vulval itching and discharge, is often sudden and occurs during or after menstruation as a result of the increased vaginal acidity.
Symptoms in Men
Most men with this infection do not have symptoms. When present, signs include:
- Discharge from the urethra
- The urge to urinate
- A burning sensation with urination.
For both men and women, the normal incubation period (time from infection until symptoms appear) is 4 to 28 days.