STI Factsheet: Trichomoniasis
What's the story with the STI?
Ask someone to list a few STIs and chances are they'll be able to tell you about things like chlamydia and genital warts but they might never have heard of Trichomoniasis, or 'Trich' as it's more commonly known.
So, what is Trich and how can it be treated?
Trichomoniasis : The Facts
- Trichomoniasis is a common infection caused by a small parasite (Trichomonas Vaginalis) that irritates the urinary tract and vagina.
- It can cause urinary tract and vaginal infections and can also increase your risk of getting other STIs.
How do you get it?
As with many other STIs, trichomoniasis is most likely to be passed on when you have unprotected sex. Without a condom, there's nothing to stop the parasite passing from one person to another during intercourse.
There's also a possibility that the infection can be passed from a pregnant woman to her baby during childbirth but the chances of it happening are quite slim.
How do you know if you have it?
Well, that's the tricky part because around 70% of people who have trich don't have any symptoms and men aren't very likely to notice them at all.
Women should keep an eye out for:
- Abnormal vaginal discharge
- Vaginal discomfort
- Burning or stinging sensation when you pass urine
- Offensive smell
Men might want to be wary of:
- Discharge from penis
- A rash on the penis
- It's rare but, a burning or stinging sensation when you pass urine
Can you get rid of it?
Yes, trichomoniasis is totally treatable. Head to your GP or STI clinic, have it properly diagnosed and you'll be able to begin treatment.
Trich is usually taken care of with antibiotics but remember, as with all STIs, just because you've been treated it doesn't mean you can't get it again later on in life if you're not careful. You need to make sure that your sexual partner is treated too and pay another visit to your doctor if the symptoms return.
Oh and whatever you do, do NOT have sex until the infection has cleared.
And if you don't treat it?
You really should get trichomoniasis treated because living with it ain't exactly pleasant.
- It tends to make sexual intercourse very uncomfortable and you run the risk of passing it on to your sexual partner.
- If you get trich while you're pregnant then there's a risk that you'll go into labour before the baby's ready to come out and that your baby's birth weight might be lower than it should be.
- Untreated trichomoniasis can increase your risk of developing other STIs.
What precautions can you take to avoid getting it?
If you're sexually active and want to avoid getting trich then there are some simple steps you can take.
- Use condoms (male or female) every time you have vaginal or anal sex.
- If you have oral sex, use a condom to cover the penis, or a dental dam to cover the female genitals or male/female anus.
- Do you use sex toys? If so, avoid sharing them with others.
Remember: The age of sexual consent in Ireland is 17. If you're over 16, you can consent to medical treatment including any treatment or tests needed.