Sexual Health news - Sexual Health and Behavior

Understanding the risks of trichomoniasis and how to treat it

When people become sexually active, they are probably warned by parents and educators about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) like gonorrhea and HIV. While individuals should be cautious of bacterial and viral infections, there is another group of diseases caused by parasites that could prove to be just as serious. Trichomoniasis, or "trich," is one of these ailments, and there are currently more than 3.7 million U.S. citizens who have been diagnosed with the sexually transmitted infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

What is trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis is spread through unprotected sexual contact, typically infecting the lower genital tract in women and the urethra in men. Unfortunately, nearly 70 percent of infected individuals do not show symptoms of trichomoniasis, but when they do arise, they include mild to severe inflammation, itching, burning or an unusual discharge from the genitals.

How is it treated?
For those who believe that they have been infected with trichomoniasis, an STD test is the only way to find out for sure. The earlier the STD is diagnosed, the better, as the organisms can stay present in the body for years without treatment and can actually increase the risk of one contracting HIV. Luckily, the parasite can be treated with a large dose of antibiotics like metronidazole. 

Can it be prevented?
While trich is certainly a serious matter for any sexually active individual, the parasite can be prevented through traditional means. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, maintaining a monogamous relationship with one partner is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of STDs, while condoms and other forms of protection are recommended for those who have multiple partners. Scheduling regular physicals is another way to stay on top of sexual health.

With proper treatment, the outcome for a trichomoniasis infection is usually good, but practicing safe sex and using caution is the best choice for long-term sexual health.