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What is it?

Trichomoniasis or “trich” is a microscopic parasite that can live in the cervix, urethra, or the foreskin (the skin that covers the head of the penis). It is estimated that about 3.7 million people in the U.S. have it, and it can make sex very painful and unpleasant.

How did I get it?

You can get trichomoniasis from vaginal sex/stimulation and sharing sex toys. It can also be passed on during childbirth. Protective measures, such as condoms, dental dams, or other barrier protections, can lesson the chances of acquiring trichomoniasis.

What are the symptoms?

Often there are no symptoms, or they can come and go. For those with a cervix, symptoms can be mistaken for any common vaginal or bladder infection. Possible symptoms are “abnormal” vaginal discharge (this is on a case by case basis, as everyone’s bodily functions are unique), painful vagina sex, bleeding during or right after vaginal sex, excessive urination, and redness or itchiness around the vagina and surrounding skin. For those with testicles, symptoms include redness around the head of the penis, discharge from the tip of the penis, and pain during urination.

What do I do when the test comes back positive?

Your healthcare provider will prescribe one large dose of oral antibiotics, such as metronidazole or tinidazole. It’s recommended to wait 7 days after treatment is complete to have any sexual contact with another person. Trichomoniasis can be passed back and forth between sex partners, so it is important to ensure all recent and current partners are tested and treated. When left untreated, trichomoniasis can cause abnormal cell growths in the cervix, increased chance of contracting a urinary tract infection and HIV, and even infertility. For people with a penis, swelling of the internal genitalia can also occur and impact fertility. So get treated!

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