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Trichomoniasis: Teen Version

What is trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis is an infection of the vagina or penis. It is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that can be treated and does not cause any serious permanent damage. However, it can increase your likelihood of getting HIV from an HIV-infected partner. Also, if a pregnant woman has trichomoniasis, the disease can cause the baby to be born early or have a low birth weight (less than 5 pounds).

What is the cause?

A tiny organism called Trichomonas vaginalis causes the infection. Sexual partners not using condoms can spread the infection to each other during sex.

What are the symptoms?

Many women who have trichomoniasis do not have any symptoms. When they do have symptoms, the most common ones are:

  • Frothy, green or yellow vaginal discharge, often with strong odor
  • Itching around the vaginal opening

Less common symptoms are:

  • Redness and soreness of the vagina
  • Burning when you urinate
  • Pain in the vagina during sex

Men usually do not have symptoms. Some men may have an irritation inside the penis, mild discharge, or slight burning after urination or ejaculation.

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine you. Your provider will use a microscope to look for trichomonas in a sample of fluid from the vagina or penis.

How is it treated?

Trichomoniasis is treated with a medicine called metronidazole, or Flagyl. Do not drink any alcohol while you are taking Flagyl and for 2 days after you finish the medicine. Drinking alcohol while you are taking Flagyl may cause severe nausea and vomiting.

Your sexual partner will also need to be treated.

How long will the effects last?

For most people, the symptoms go away less than 1 week after treatment.

Men who are infected may stop having symptoms in a few weeks even without treatment. However, without treatment they can keep infecting their partners.

The genital inflammation caused by trichomoniasis can make it easier for a woman to become infected with HIV if she is exposed to the virus. It may also make it easier for her to pass HIV to her sex partners.

How can I take care of myself?

  • If you may be or are pregnant, tell your healthcare provider.
  • Tell everyone with whom you have had sex in the last 3 months about your infection. They must also be treated, even if they don’t have any symptoms. Do not have sex until your symptoms are gone and both you and your partner have finished your treatment.
  • Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions. Ask your healthcare provider:
    • How and when you will hear your test results
    • What other STDs you should be tested for
    • How long it will take to recover from this illness
    • What activities you should avoid and when you can return to normal activities
    • When it is safe to start having sex again
    • How to take care of yourself at home
    • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if you have them
  • Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup.

How can I help prevent trichomoniasis?

  • Lower the risk of infection by always using latex or polyurethane condoms during foreplay and sex.
  • Have sex with only 1 person who is not having sex with anyone else. Make sure your partner has been tested for STDs.
  • If you have had sex without a condom and are worried that you may have been infected, see your healthcare provider even if you don’t have symptoms.
  • If you have been raped and are at risk of having been infected, you should be examined and treated as soon as possible to prevent sexually transmitted infections.
Developed by RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2013.2 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2013-02-11
Last reviewed: 2013-01-03
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2013 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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