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March 5, 2024

STI Spotlight: Trichomoniasis – What You Need to Know

As part of our series spotlighting STI’s, this month we’re looking at Trichomoniasis.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are an infection that can be passed on between sexual partners during unprotected sexual contact. There are more than 25 STIs which can be spread by vaginal, anal or oral sex.

They are unfortunately common amongst all age groups, which is why it’s important to understand what they are, the symptoms you may experience and how they are treated.

It’s important to start breaking the stigma surrounding STIs by showing that they aren’t something to be embarrassed about and, in most cases, can be very simple and quick to get treated.

So, let’s have a look at what Trichomoniasis is and what you need to know about it.

What is Trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis is caused by the parasite Trichomonas vaginalis. It is a common and treatable STI. The infection predominantly affects the urinary tract and genital areas of both men and women. While trichomoniasis can affect anyone who is sexually active, it is observed more frequently in women than in men. One of the reasons trichomoniasis demands attention is its ability to increase the risk of contracting other sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, making its prevention and treatment paramount in sexual health management.

Symptoms of Trichomoniasis

A challenging aspect of trichomoniasis is that about 70% of infected individuals do not exhibit noticeable symptoms, making it a “silent” infection that can easily be passed between sexual partners unknowingly. When symptoms do occur, they may vary between individuals and genders:

  • For women: Symptoms can include a frothy, yellow-green vaginal discharge with a strong odour, discomfort during urination and sexual intercourse, irritation and itching of the genital area, and, less commonly, lower abdominal pain.
  • For men: Symptoms are less common but can include irritation inside the penis, mild discharge, or slight burning after urination or ejaculation.

Diagnostic Tests for Trichomoniasis

Prompt diagnosis is key to effective treatment and preventing the spread of trichomoniasis. Testing for trichomoniasis involves:

  • Physical examination: A healthcare provider may examine the genital area for any signs of infection.
  • Lab tests: For women, a pelvic exam is conducted, and samples of vaginal fluid are collected. For men, a urine sample, or a swab from the inside of the penis may be taken. These samples are then analysed for the presence of T. vaginalis.

The Essex Sexual Health Service offers confidential testing and support for trichomoniasis, on a symptomatic basis, and other STIs. Testing is straightforward, and individuals are encouraged to get tested if they suspect they have symptoms or have had unprotected sex with a new or multiple partners. To order your free STI kit, please visit our Personal Health Record online portal here.

Treatment for Trichomoniasis

The good news is that trichomoniasis is curable with antibiotics. The most common treatment involves weeks course of antibiotic. It’s crucial for all sexual partners to be treated simultaneously to prevent reinfection. During treatment, individuals should abstain from sexual activity until they and their partners have completed the treatment and any symptoms have cleared, which usually occurs within a week.

Prevention

Prevention strategies for trichomoniasis mirror those for other STIs:

  • Consistent and correct use of condoms during sexual activity, with any current or new sexual partners. Order your free condoms via our eC-Card.
  • Regular STI screenings, especially for individuals with new or multiple sexual partners.

Conclusion

Trichomoniasis, despite being a common and treatable STI, requires increased public awareness and proactive management. Recognising symptoms, understanding the importance of testing, and adhering to treatment protocols are critical steps in managing this infection. The Essex Sexual Health Service remains a valuable resource for information, testing, and treatment, supporting individuals in maintaining their sexual health.

It’s essential to remember that sexual health is an integral part of overall well-being. By fostering an environment of openness, education, and support, we can collectively combat the spread of STIs like trichomoniasis and ensure a healthier future for all.

For more information, guidance, or to book a test, please visit Essex Sexual Health Service. Together, we can make strides in sexual health awareness and prevention.

 

 

 

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