Trichomoniasis is one of the more common of all sexually transmitted diseases. It may be passed by poor hygiene in addition to sex. Many people are simply passive carriers of the disease and do not experience any symptoms. For those who experience trichomoniasis symptoms, these can range from genital discharge to pain while peeing. There are drug treatments available for the STD that effectively kill the disease.
This STD is caused by trichomonads that are roughly the same size as white blood cells. There is an increased prevalence of this STD in black women. It is estimated that 15% to 20% of all black women older than 30 years of age carry the disease, compared to 2% in nonblack women. The health impact of this STD is still unknown, although studies of pregnant women with trichomoniasis showed an increased incidence of premature delivery. There is a correlation between having trichomoniasis and having an increased risk for HIV infection.
Testing for trichomoniasis: There no current screening recommendations and trichomoniasis is not part of most STD testing programs at sexual health clinics. A vaginal wet mount (vaginal smear) is the most frequent method of diagnosis in the United States. A doctor can also perform an enzyme immunoassay test within their office. This test requires a laboratory culture taken with a special swab, and requires 5 days before the test results are known. This test must be taken in a doctor’s office because it is more sensitive than a vaginal smear.
Treatment of trichomoniasis: A single-dose of oral metronidazole has a cure rate comparable to treatment over 5 to 7 days. Affected individuals should have partners get treatment as well. Unfortunately, there are now metronidazole-resistant trichomoniasis cases becoming more prevalent. The effectiveness of the treatment is generally not monitored, but a reappearance of the STD may mean reinfection or re-exposure to an infected partner. Nonadherence to treatment is another problem with effectively treating the disease as some people may be unable to tolerate some of the side effects. For these people, tinidazole is a newly approved drug therapy that is just as effective but more expensive. It may be better tolerated than metronidazole in some people, and those with metronidazole resistance may respond better to tinidazole.