Trichomoniasis, or sometimes referred to as Trich, is a very common sexually transmitted disease (STD) that any sexually active person could get. Trich is caused by an infection with a protozoan parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. Symptoms of trich can vary, and like other common STDs, people who have contracted the parasite can’t generally tell they have been infected.
According to the CDC, trich is the most common curable STD, and in the US, they estimate that more than two million people are infected with this parasite each year. Trich is more common in women, especially older women, and only about 30% of infected people develop or show symptoms.
The Trich parasite is spread from one infected person to an uninfected person during sexual intercourse. During sex, the parasite typically spreads from penis to vagina (or vice versa) and can also spread from vagina to vagina.
The most commonly infected parts of the body are the lower genital tract, which includes the vulva, vagina, cervix, or urethra (in women) or the inside of the penis (in men). Fortunately, it is not common for this parasite to infect other parts of the body, like the hands, mouth, or anus.
Many people infected with trich (about 70%) do not show symptoms or have incredibly mild symptoms that range from mild to severe. When symptoms are present, they may begin around 5-28 days after being infected. There are even some cases where symptoms don’t develop until months later.
Itchy, burning, red, or sore genitals
Discomfort when urinating
More than normal vaginal discharge that can be clear, white, yellow, or greenish with an unusual fishy smell
Unpleasant feeling or pain while having sex
Itching or irritation inside the penis
Burning sensation after urination or ejaculation
Discharge from the penis (not from ejaculating)
Like any other STD, Trich can also last for months or even years if it’s left untreated. It can also increase the risk of getting or spreading other STDs, including HIV.
The only way to completely avoid Trichomoniasis, and STDs in general, is not to have vaginal, anal, or oral sex. If you are sexually active, you can do these things to reduce your chances of getting genital herpes:
Be in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who is not infected with genital herpes (Getting tested together is a great way to prevent any possible spread)
Use latex condoms every time you have sex. Be aware that condoms are not 100% effective for preventing Trich or other STDs.
If you are pregnant, it is essential to talk to your doctor about your sexual history and the possibility of having Trich. Even if you’ve been with the same partner for years, it could be wise to get tested for the most common STDs.
Some research has shown that pregnant women with trich are more likely to deliver their babies preterm (too early). Babies born to infected mothers are more likely to have low birth weight (under 5.5 pounds).
A doctor can’t diagnose Trich from sight alone like other STDs, such as genital herpes. Trich can only be diagnosed by a lab test. Most Trich tests only require you to provide a urine sample but can vary.
Luckily, many online doctor providers can order a variety of STD tests, including a test for Trich. These tests are typically painless and can be administered at a lab or clinic near you.
If you’re like most people, the sound of leaving the house to make an uncomfortable lab appointment is inconvenient and daunting. There are now a handful of online companies like EverlyWell that offer at-home STD Tests that you can take in the comfort and privacy of your own home.
Thankfully, Trich is curable and can be treated with an antibiotic. This medication is safe for pregnant women. However, it is not recommended that you consume alcohol within 24 hours after taking it.
The antibacterial medications used to treat trichomoniasis include:
Metronidazole (Flagyl) - This medication is taken in pill or liquid form by mouth and has possible side effects, including diarrhea, headache, nausea, or stomach cramps.
Tinidazole (Tindamax) is taken in pill form by mouth and only available with a prescription. Possible side effects include a bitter or metallic taste in the mouth, stomach pain, headache, or acid reflux.
Trich can be diagnosed and treated by an online doctor from the following providers:
You can also get an at-home STD Test from the following trusted providers:
Learning that you have Trichomoniasis can be a shock and cause a variety of emotions. You may feel angry with your partner thinking they gave you the infection, or you may fear rejection by your partner or future partners. It is normal to feel this way, and there are several healthy ways to cope with your diagnosis. It is crucial to communicate with your partner and have open and honest conversations about how you feel. Trust your partner, and don’t play the blame game. Because trich can lie dormant in your body for years, it is complicated to determine exactly when you became infected.
Suppose you’re having a hard time navigating an STD diagnosis, or any diagnosis for that matter. In that case, it might help to join a support group, such as Wisdo, so that you can talk about your experience and emotions and learn from others going through the same thing. It may help seek out professional counseling or online therapy if you are having a difficult time coping with your condition or noticing signs of depression.
We have reviewed many online therapy providers, and one that we trust and highly recommend is Talkspace. Talkspace will connect you with a licensed therapist specializing in treating the symptoms you might be feeling, such as anxiety or shame caused by your diagnosis. They treat individuals, couples, and even teens dealing with the emotional effects of STDs.