Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by a parasitic organism Trichomonas vaginalis. This infection commonly affects women between ages sixteen and thirty-five, although males can become infected as well. It is often referred to as vaginitis or “trich.”
The parasite that causes trichomoniasis cannot live in the rectum or the mouth, so the only modes of transmission are penis-to-vagina intercourse or vulva-to-vulva contact with someone who is already infected. The symptoms of the infection vary for males and females.
Women will often experience itching on or around the genitals, including the inner thighs, labia, vulva, or vagina. In some cases, the labia may appear swollen as well. Along with this discomfort, women will develop a vaginal discharge that is green-white or yellowish in color with a foul or strong smelling odor. Often females will also feel pain or irritation during urination or sexual intercourse.
In males, there are rarely symptoms, and the infection may go away in a few weeks without treatment. In some cases, males may suffer from urethral discharge or itching, burning with urination or ejaculation and in rare cases may develop conditions such as prostatitis or epididymitis as a result.
Vaginitis is actually the technical term for any infection or inflammation of the vagina. Most women will experience some form of vaginitis at least once in their lives. Vaginitis can be can be caused by a variety of things, so it is important that a physician determine the exact cause in order to prescribe the appropriate treatment.
While there are several different kinds of vaginitis, the most common is a yeast infection. This is what most people think of when they hear the term “vaginitis.” This infection is caused by the Candida fungus. It occurs when bacteria that balances against the fungus is too low, and the fungus grows too large in number, thus causing the infection.
With a yeast infection, abnormal vaginal discharge will typically be thick and white, similar to the consistency of cottage cheese. This type of infection happens frequently with the use of antibiotics or during pregnancy. Uncontrolled diabetes can also trigger the infection.
In some cases, vaginitis will cause no irritation and will produce no discharge. In these instances, the infection is found during a woman’s routine gynecological examination. Irritated cells will be seen by the physician and diagnosed appropriately.