Do you know what trichomoniasis is? If not, don't feel bad; only 1 in 5 women are familiar with the term. Often called trich, this condition is the result of tiny parasitic organisms invading the urogenital tract, and it's the most common treatable sexually transmitted infection in the United States. Anybody can contract trich, but it's most prevalent among teen girls and women over the age of 40.
Why Trich Doesn't Gain Much Attention
It is estimated that 3.7 million Americans are infected with trich. However, it is among the least discussed STDs out there. How could such a common condition evoke such little attention? There are a few different reasons -- one is that only about 30 percent of those infected develop symptoms, so many people have no idea that they have it.
Another reason trich takes the back seat in sexual education is because it's fairly easy to treat. It can usually be wiped out with one mega-dose of antibiotics, as long as the person being treated takes measures to limit the possibility of re-contracting the infection.
Finally, because it is so easily treated, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention doesn't require healthcare officials to report their cases. It's difficult to illustrate to the public the risks of this highly contagious infection without solid statistics.
The Risks Of Trich
Trich isn't life threatening, but ladies who experience symptoms may suffer from vaginal itching and swelling, painful, burning, and/or frequent urination, and discomfort during sex. Some women may also experience a vaginal odor, blood spotting, or a thick, frothy vaginal discharge. In pregnant women, trich can lead to premature labor and low birth weight.
Men with trich sometimes experience itching, swelling, and/or burning of the penis.
Whether symptoms are present or not, those with trich have an added risk of developing other, more serious sexually transmitted diseases.
Perhaps the scariest aspect of trich, though, is the fact that it may be evolving to resist treatment. Research shows that 80 percent of the parasites responsible for the infection are infected with a virus. This virus doesn't hurt the parasites; instead, it helps them by attacking human cells when the parasites are threatened with metronidazole (the most common medication used in treating trich). While the medication is still highly effective at treating the condition, that may change if the parasite continues to evolve.
Stopping The Spread Of Trich
The primary way in which trich spreads is through sexual intercourse. However, since the parasites can live in a moist environment for up to 1.5 hours, it may be possible to contract the STD by sharing a washcloth or communal bathing.
Visit your healthcare provider or your local chapter of Planned Parenthood and ask for a free STD test. If your test reveals that you have trich, you'll be administered an antibiotic to treat the condition immediately. If you currently have a sexual partner, ask them to be tested at the same time; if trich is detected, your partner being treated at the same time as you will eliminate the possibility of re-contracting the STD after treatment.
Latex condoms can help reduce your risk of contracting trich, but they won't eliminate it. Going forward, involve yourself with only one trusted partner at a time and discuss their sexual background before becoming intimate with them.
Trichomoniasis is a very serious threat to the female population, yet many women have never even heard of it. Do your part to help limit the spread of this highly contagious STD by getting tested for it, getting treated for it if necessary, and taking future steps to protect yourself from contracting it. You can get treated for STDs like trich at a clinic such as Safer STD Testing. Also, share the above wealth of knowledge with the other ladies in your life and encourage them to do the same.