According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, trichomoniasis, also known as trich, is a very common curable sexually transmitted disease. In fact, in the U.S., an estimated 3.7 million people have the infection, but only about 30 percent develop symptoms of trichomoniasis.
Now, a study recently published in the journals Advance Access in the Journal of Infectious Diseases and nature Reviews Urology points out that certain bacteria make women more susceptible to trich.
Scientists from Louisiana State University found that two specific types of bacteria are linked to the STD. The bacteria are known as mycoplasmas.
Specifically, they found that women who have this vaginal bacteria are more likely to suffer from severe cases of trich than others. Additionally, they were found to have greater amounts of discharge and redness of the vaginal wall.
"We think that this group might also be at especially high risk for infection with HIV," said lead researcher David Martin, M.D.
However, the researchers were unable to determine which comes first - the trichomonas parasite or the bacteria.
"Instead of these unique [bacteria] predisposing a woman to infection as originally thought, we now believe that trichomonas takes on the role of a farmer in the vaginal environment by cultivating bacterial communities that are in some way beneficial to itself," Martin explained. "Proving this hypothesis and figuring out how these bacteria interact with trichomonas will be the subject of future research."
Trich is caused by a parasite that is passed from an infected individual during sex. Both men and women can get the STD. In women, the most commonly infected part of the body is the lower genital tract. Symptoms include itching, burning, redness or soreness of the genitals, discomfort with urination and a thin discharge with an unusual smell.
Men are likely to have the parasite invade the urethra. Symptoms may consist of itching or irritation inside the penis, burning after urination or ejaculation, or discharge from the penis.
Trich can be diagnosed with a laboratory STD test. It is treated with a course of antibiotic medication.