Trichomoniasis is a very common sexually transmitted disease (STD), and in the United States, about 3.7 million people are infected with it. Many people are infected but asymptomatic. About 70% of people with trichomoniasis never develop any symptoms. The 30% who do have symptoms may notice burning, itching, sore genitals, or maloderous genital discharge. Trichomoniasis is diagnosed through a urine culture or genital swab, and is treated with antibiotics.
What Is Trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis is caused by a tiny parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis (TV). You can catch it through genital contact – so through vaginal intercourse with a penis, or by two vaginas or two penises touching. Infection is more common in women than in men. In women, the lower genital tract (vulva, vagina, cervix, and urethra) are the parts most affected. In men, it’s the inside of the penis (urethra). While only about 30% of people with trichomoniasis have symptoms, it’s still possible to infect someone else even if you’re asymptomatic.
Trichomoniasis Symptoms for Women
Although more women than men become infected with trichomoniasis, most will be asymptomatic. However, common symptoms include:
- Genital redness, burning, itching, and soreness
- Vaginal discharge
- A change in vaginal discharge such as increased volume, or thinner consistency than normal
- Painful urination or painful intercourse
It’s important to note that pregnant women with trichomoniasis are at risk of premature birth, and/or low birth weight (less than 5.5 pounds) babies. Pregnant women can also transmit the infection to their babies as they pass through the birth canal. Because of this, most women are routinely tested for trichomoniasis during pregnancy.
Trichomoniasis Symptoms for Men
Trichomoniasis rarely causes symptoms in men. Symptoms can include:
- Genital discharge
- Burning in the urethra with urination or after ejaculation
- Itching or irritation inside the penis