Trichomoniasis, usually called “trich” (and pronounced “trick”), is a common STD that affects all genders but is more common in persons with a vagina. It is caused by a parasite. Trich is the most common, curable STD. Each year, there are about a million new cases of Trichomoniasis in the United States. Most cases are among teens and young adults. The vagina and penile (penis) urethra (urine canal) is the most common site of infection.
The parasite is sexually transmitted through sexual contact (penis-to-vagina or vulva-to-vulva contact) with an infected partner. Trich usually does not infect other parts of the body like the mouth or anus.
What are the signs and symptoms? What can happen?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only about 30% of people who have trich have any symptoms at all. Symptoms show up 5-28 days after having unprotected sex.
Most people with trich do not have any signs or symptoms.
A person with a vagina may have signs or symptoms such as a vaginal discharge that is colored or has a foul smell, itching in or around the vagina and pain during sex or urinating.
A person with a penis may have irritation inside the penis, a mild discharge or a slight burning after urination or ejaculation.
Having trich can make it easier to become infected with the HIV virus or to pass the HIV virus on to a sex partner. It can also cause babies to be born early or with low birth weight.
Is there a cure? How is it treated?
Yes, trichomoniasis is curable with antibiotics. Both partners must be treated to prevent getting trich again. Don’t have sex until all partners have finished the medication.
Your healthcare provider will talk to you about the types of tests that can diagnose and treat trich.
How can you prevent it?
Remember that the only method that is 100% effective in preventing STDs is abstinence, but if you’re sexually active, the best way to avoid trich and all STDs is to use a latex condom correctly every time you have sex.
Latex condoms give good protection against trich during vaginal, anal, and oral sex on a penis. For protection against it during oral sex on a vagina, you can use a dental dam – a thin square of latex – between the mouth and the vulva.