What is Trichomonas vaginalis?
Trichomonas vaginalis or Trichomoniasis is an STI that affects both men and women, though women are more likely to experience symptoms. It is caused by a parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. It is also referred to as Trichomonas and is often shortened to ‘Trich’ or ‘TV’. More women than men are affected by trichomoniasis but diagnosis is often difficult as there are usually no symptoms.
How common is Trichomonas vaginalis?
Around 6,000 cases of trichomoniasis are diagnosed annually within the United Kingdom.
How is Trichomonas vaginalis passed on?
Trichomoniasis is caused by a parasite that attaches itself to the lining of the vagina. The parasite is usually spread by having unprotected sex. Occasionally the infection can be spread by sharing sex toys. Trichomoniasis cannot be passed on through having anal or oral sex.
What are the complications of Trichomonas vaginalis?
Complications related to trichomoniasis are rare. However, the infection can weaken the protective mucus barrier of the cervix, which helps prevent infection of the female reproductive organs. Weakening of this mucus increases the risk of HIV infection. If the infection develops during pregnancy, it can cause premature birth and low birth weight.
Infection in males usually clears itself within a few weeks. However, some men may develop epididymitis or prostatitis. Recent research also suggests an increased risk of prostate cancer in males with trichomoniasis, emphasising the need to diagnose asymptomatic males early.