Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a bug called Trichomonas vaginalis (TV). This little bug lives in the genital secretions of infected individuals, and although it cannot be seen by the naked eye (it is less than 0.03 mm!), it can be reliably detected using a simple laboratory test.
How common is trichomoniasis in women?
Trichomoniasis is actually reported to be the most common non-viral STI Worldwide. It is more common in women, and Worldwide, an estimated 5.3% of women have the bug. However, the rates in the UK appear to be low, with studies suggesting a prevalence of less than 1% in UK women. It is more common in women under the age of 25 and in women in black and ethnic minority populations. TV is not routinely tested for in many clinics in the UK, so the overall prevalence may be underestimated.
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How is trichomoniasis spread?
Trichomonas vaginalis parasite is almost exclusively spread through sexual contact, including vaginal and anal sex. However, the parasite also has the potential to be transmitted through sharing of sex toys or other personal items that may have come into contact with infected genital secretions.
What are the symptoms of trichomoniasis?
Trichomonas, like other STIs, often causes no symptoms. In fact, TV is asymptomatic in up to 50% of women. If symptoms do occur, they typically develop within 5 to 28 days of exposure. Common symptoms of trichomoniasis in women include vaginal discharge, itching and discomfort passing urine. These symptoms are not specific to TV and may occur with other STIs such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea and other conditions such as urinary tract infections. So if you’re worried about TV, it’s best to get a full check up - you can do that right here at Yoxly from the comfort of your own home!
How is trichomoniasis diagnosed?
The diagnosis of trichomoniasis in women involves laboratory testing of a swab taken from the vagina. A healthcare provider may take this swab during a physical examination in a clinic, or in some cases, a self-obtained vaginal swab can be used (you can do this at home via Yoxly!). This swab is typically looked at under a microscope to see if the TV bug is present or is tested in a lab for the presence of trichomonas DNA. Here at Yoxly, our partner laboratory is accredited by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), ensuring you get an accurate result for your STI testing.
How is trichomoniasis treated?
Trichomoniasis is treated with antibiotics such as metronidazole. These antibiotics are taken orally and are usually prescribed for a period of 7 to 10 days. It is important to complete the full course of antibiotics, even if symptoms have improved, to ensure the infection has been effectively treated. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should consult with their healthcare provider before taking antibiotics for trichomoniasis, as some antibiotics may not be safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
What happens if trichomoniasis is not treated in women?
Left untreated, trichomonas infection can increase the risk of contracting other STIs, such as HIV, and can result in serious health problems, such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Therefore, if you have symptoms of TV, it’s important to get checked to prevent any complications from an infection.
How can I avoid catching trichomoniasis?
Since trichomoniasis is transmitted via sex, practising safer sex using condoms is the most effective way to reduce the risk of contracting trichomoniasis. Women should also avoid sharing unwashed sex toys, as these items may have come into contact with infected genital secretions and can potentially transmit TV.
In conclusion, trichomoniasis is a common STI caused by the Trichomonas vaginalis parasite and is transmitted through sexual contact. Symptoms of trichomoniasis in women can include vaginal discharge, itching or problems urinating.
The diagnosis of trichomoniasis typically involves laboratory testing of a swab taken from the vagina, and treatment typically involves antibiotics. In addition, women can reduce their risk of contracting trichomoniasis by practising safer sex using condoms.