Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI, also known by the older term "sexutally transmitted disease," or STD) that causes some symptoms that are similar to a yeast infection. Some women who think they have a yeast infection may actually have trichomoniasis.
Trichomoniasis is caused by a parasite that you can catch through unprotected sexual contact, which also includes vulva-to-vulva contact. Symptoms include vaginal irritation, itching and burning, and a smelly discharge from the vagina. The discharge is frothy and may be off-white or yellow-green in colour. Women with trichomoniasis may also have abdominal pain, pain during urination, discomfort during sex, or bleeding after sex.
If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment. Other conditions, such as yeast infections and bacterial infections, can cause some similar symptoms, and proper treatment depends on which condition you have. Your doctor can use a lab test and physical exam to diagnose trichomoniasis. You and your doctor may also consider testing for other STIs at this time.
If it is not properly treated, trichomoniasis can increase a woman’s chance of HIV infection if she is exposed to HIV. If a woman is already infected with HIV, having untreated trichomoniasis makes her more likely to pass the virus on to her sex partners. If a woman has trichomoniasis during pregnancy, she’s at a higher risk of having a premature baby or a baby with low birth weight.
The good news is that trichomoniasis can be successfully treated with antibiotics. It’s important for all of your sex partners to be treated as well. This will cure them of the disease and prevent them from reinfecting you or others.
Using a condom and limiting your number of sex partners can help reduce your risk of trichomoniasis.
Because of the complications that trichomoniasis can cause if it’s not properly treated, it’s very important to see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment when you have vaginal discharge, itching, or irritation.
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