Trichomoniasis: Few symptoms, serious infection

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Reviewed by Michael Davies, MD Nov. 05, 2012

While many people have heard of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, they may not know much about trichomoniasis. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, trichomoniasis is a common STD that is usually found in women between the ages of 16 and 35, but can affect both genders. It can be extremely difficult to diagnose in men, and many may have this infection but are unaware of it, which increases their risk of passing it on to others.

Recently, The Philadelphia Inquirer published an article by Rima Himelstein, M.D., who explained more about the infection and encouraged people to get tested to make sure they don't have it. According to the doctor, trichomoniasis is the most common treatable STD in the U.S., and it is estimated that millions of people have it. However, up to half of all infected females and 90 percent of infected males exhibit no symptoms, so many people may not know that they need to visit the doctor to get treated for this STD.

Himelstein added that like all STDs, the risk of contracting trichomoniasis increases with multiple partners and previous exposure to other STDs.

While the infection is often asymptomatic, some women may experience a discharge from the vagina, a burning or itching sensation in the genitals or worse menstrual symptoms than usual. Men with trichomoniasis may also experience pain or itching in the genitals.

Since this infection can come with no symptoms, some people may be wondering why it's important to get it treated. If left untreated, trichomoniasis increases the risk of developing pelvic inflammatory disease and HIV. One does of an antibiotic can rid a person of this infection, so there's really no reason to not take care of it.

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