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Trichomoniasis is a genital infection caused by the protozoa, Trichomonas vaginalis.

What is going on in the body? 
Trichomoniasis is a common infection that affects men and women all over the world. It is almost always acquired through sexual contact.

What are the signs and symptoms of the infection? 
Women can be infected and have no symptoms. But the infection can be associated with vaginal discharge, painful sexual intercourse, pain with urination and discomfort of the lower stomach. In men, this infection can cause urethritis, or an inflammation of the urethra. The urethra is the tube or canal that carries urine out of the bladder. The infection is also associated with epididymitis in men, which is an inflammation of the epididymis. The epididymis is an oblong structure in the back of the testis where sperm mature. And infection can result in penile ulcers, or open sores on the penis. But most often infection is without symptoms.

What are the causes and risks of the infection? 
  • Trichomoniasis is caused by Trichomonas vaginalis.
  • Sexual activity increases the risk of acquiring this infection.
What can be done to prevent the infection? 
The best way to prevent this infection is to use a latex or plastic condom during sexual intercourse. Some types of condoms also come with the spermicide nonoxynol-9. Spermicide nonoxynol-9 helps kill some organisms that cause sexually transmitted diseases.

How is the infection diagnosed? 
A doctor can diagnosis this infection by looking at a sample of genital secretions under a microscope.

What are the risks to others? 
An infected person can spread trichomoniasis to others through unprotected sex.

What are the treatments for the infection? 
  • Metronidazole is the antibiotic of choice for treatment of this infection. All sexual partners should be treated.
  • Anyone with trichomoniasis should also be checked for other sexually transmitted diseases and treated appropriately.
What are the side effects of the treatments? 
Nausea, bad taste in the mouth, and vaginal infection in women are the most common side effects of taking the medication. Also, because Metronidazole blocks the breaking down of alcohol after it is ingested, alcohol or alcohol-containing products, should not be consumed while taking this medication.

Author: Danielle Zerr, MD
Reviewer: eknowhow Medical Review Panel
Editor: Dr John Hearne
Last Updated: 7/03/2005
Potential conflict of interest information for reviewers available on request

This website and article is not a substitute for independent professional advice. Nothing contained in this website is intended to be used as medical advice and it is not intended to be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes or as a substitute for your own health professional's advice.  All Health and any associated parties do not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information.


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