Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by a microscopic one-celled organism called Trichomonas vaginalis. Trichomoniasis can cause vaginal infections in women and inflammation of the urethra (the tube that drains urine from the bladder) in both sexes. In expecting mothers, the infection increases the risk of premature rupture of the membranes and preterm delivery.
Trichomonas is passed from an infected person to his or her partner during sexual intercourse without a condom. Men can pass the infection on to their sexual partners, but they rarely develop symptoms themselves.
In women, Trichomonas organisms can live in the vagina for many years without causing symptoms. The symptoms include a yellow-green, foul-smelling vaginal discharge, Vaginal pain or itching, irritation and inflammation around the vaginal opening, Vaginal pain during sexual intercourse and burning discomfort during urination.
In a few cases, there will be discomfort in the lower abdomen. Symptoms may get worse during a menstrual period. Although men usually have no symptoms, they occasionally can have irritation and inflammation at the tip of the penis, discomfort during urination, and a discharge from the end of the penis.
Trichomonas infections are treated with an oral medication called metronidazole (Flagyl, Metryl). Although metronidazole gel is also available, it is not as effective as medication taken by mouth. Pregnant women should not take metronidazole during the first trimester of pregnancy, so an alternative medication should be used or treatment should be delayed until later in pregnancy. In people who drink alcohol, metronidazole can trigger cramps, nausea, vomiting, headaches and flushing. To prevent these problems, avoid drinking alcoholic beverages while taking metronidazole and for three days after you stop taking the drug.
Without treatment, Trichomonas infections can last for years.
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