Trichomonas, or trichomonas vaginalis, is a sexually transmitted infection that is caused by a small organism known as a protozoan – or a parasite – which is quite similar to a bacterium. The trichomonas protozoan affects a man's urethra and prostate gland, and a woman's urethra and vagina, although it is more common in women. Only 6,000 cases of trichomonas have been reported in the UK, making it a relatively uncommon STI. But if trichomonas is left untreated, it may cause premature labour, and prostatitis in women and men.
Trichomonas can easily be treated with a course of antibiotics such as Metronidazole, which can be prescribed for you online by a registered UK doctor after you've taken an online consultation.
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More than half of all men and women do not experience any symptoms of a trichomonas infection, although it can still be passed on to your sexual partner if you do not have any symptoms. Women do, however, experience symptoms more often than men.
Men usually experience a discharge from the urethra, as well as increased and painful urinations.
Women experience more symptoms of trichomonas, including vaginal itching, soreness and inflammation, pain during sexual intercourse or when urinating and, although less common, pain in the groin area. Women may also experience a strange greenish-yellow discharge, which may be frothy and have a slightly fishy odour.
The most common way to catch trichomonas is through unprotected sexual intercourse. The trichomonas protozoan lives inside the infected person's urethra or vagina and can be easily passed from one person to another.
The trichomonas protozoan is about the size of a white blood cell, and is able to move around urethral and vaginal tissues. It causes tissue ulceration by directly damaging the epithelium.
In extremely rare occasions, trichomonas can be spread by sharing a Jacuzzi or hot bath, or by sharing moist towels with an infected person.
Diagnosing trichomonas can often be difficult because the symptoms are similar to those of other STI's. Nevertheless, you should always visit your sexual health clinic immediately, if you are experiencing any abnormal discharge or irritation.
A nurse will usually examine your vagina or penis for any signs of inflammation, and then will test for the trichomonas infection using a swab test or a urine sample. These will often be sent away to a laboratory for further analysis. Quick treatment is crucial for any STI, so if your nurse is almost certain that you have trichomonas, then you may be recommended a course of treatment before the results have been sent back
Trichomonas is not as dangerous as other STIs, such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea, because it doesn't penetrate as far up the urethra and into the body. However, trichomonas makes you more susceptible to contracting more serious infections, such as HIV.
If left untreated, the trichomonas infection may cause prostatitis in men. It may also lead to an increased risk of premature labour in women, as well as new-born babies with a much lower birth weight. Many people infected with trichomonas, are often found to be infected with gonorrhoea as well.
"Trichomonas vaginalis is a parasitic STI that is more common in women than men. It can eventually lead to complications, but is easy to treat."Dr Hilary Jones
HealthExpress Medical Advisor
Metronidazole is the most effective antibiotic used to treat a trichomonas infection. This antibiotic can easily be taken as either a 1 day dose or as a 7 day course to treat the infection. You should always take the full course of antibiotics, even if your symptoms disappear before you finish the course.
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