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Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the protozoa, Trichomonas vaginalis. It is commonly called ‘trich’ (sounds like "trick").

Both males and females can get trichomonas, but it is more commonly found in females. Trichomoniasis can be cured with medication.

Causes

Trichomoniasis is passed through unprotected vaginal (frontal) sexual contact. The infection is most commonly found in the vagina in females and the urethra in males.

Symptoms

Often people do not notice any symptoms. When there are symptoms, they usually start within 4 to 28 days after getting the infection. In some cases, it can take months for symptoms to appear.

Common symptoms in females can include: 

  • Vaginal itching with redness
  • Unusual vaginal discharge  
  • Discomfort when peeing

Males often do not have symptoms. If there are symptoms, they may include a burning feeling while peeing, fluid from the penis or redness at the end of the penis.

Complications

Untreated trichomoniasis can increase the chance of getting a pelvic infection or other STIs and HIV. It may also affect fertility and cause lower sperm count in males. If a pregnant person has trichomoniasis, the baby may be born early (premature) and/or with a low birth weight.

Tests and Diagnosis

To find out if you have trichomonas, you will need to get tested.  For females, testing is done with a swab from the vagina. Usually you will get tested for other STIs at the same time. Ask your health care provider to also test for syphilis, gonorrhea and HIV.

Treatment

Trichomoniasis is treated with antibiotics.

Treatment for Partners

If you have trichomonas, you should tell anyone that you have had sex with in the past two months (60 days) so that they can also be treated. Partners are almost always given medication, whether or not they have symptoms. It is not necessary for partners to be tested.

There are a few different ways you can tell partners about STI testing. Some people want to tell partners in person, others prefer to tell partners anonymously. Talk to your health care provider about what ways might work best for you.

Avoid Re-infection or Prolonging Infection

It takes time for an infection to be cleared from the body, so it is important that you do not have oral, vaginal (frontal) and anal sex for seven days after you and your partners start the antibiotic treatment. If you or your partners do not finish the treatment or miss pills, the infection may be passed back to you or your partners and may cause health problems later on. If that happens, talk with your health care provider to see if you or your partners need more treatment.

Resources

BC Centre for Disease Control – Trichomoniasis
HealthLink BC – Trichomoniasis


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