Trichomoniasis is an STI caused by a parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. It can occur in both sexes, but the highest incidence is in teenaged girls and young women. When present between early infancy and puberty, Trichomonas infection may be a sign of sexual abuse.
Signs and Symptoms
Many infections with T vaginalis have no signs or symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they can include a foul- or strong-smelling vaginal discharge yellow or grayish-green in color, mild vaginal itching, pain during urination, and in rare cases, lower abdominal pain. These symptoms may become more severe just before or after menstruation.
Males can contract the infection from a sexual partner. The symptoms include itching or discharge from the penis, as well as mild burning associated with urination. In most cases, however, boys and men infected with T vaginalis have no symptoms.
The incubation period from the time of infection to the beginning of signs and symptoms averages 1 week, although it can range from 4 to 28 days.
When To Call Your Pediatrician
If your daughter notices a vaginal discharge or itching or any of the other symptoms, she should see her pediatrician. Males should be seen as well if they develop symptoms or if their sexual partners have been diagnosed with this infection.
How Is The Diagnosis Made?
The diagnosis of trichomoniasis is usually made through a physical examination and (in females) by examining a smear of vaginal discharge under the microscope. Cultures can be performed but are not usually needed. The diagnosis is more difficult to make in males.
Most cases are treated with an antibiotic called metronidazole. The sexual partner(s) of the infected person should be treated at the same time, even if he does not have symptoms.
What Is The Prognosis?
Treatment with metronidazole produces a cure in about 95% of patients.
Important preventive measures include regular use of latex condoms or abstaining from sexual activity.