Glad that you asked us this question. Trichomoniasis is one of the most common STIs but yet not much attention is given to it. Trichomoniasis, also referred to as trich or trichomonas, is caused by a parasite. Like many other STIs, people with trich may not have any symptoms and still be spreading the infection to others. People contract trich when they have unprotected sex with someone who has the infection.
Trich can infect the urethra (the tube we pee out of). Some common symptoms in men with trichomoniasis include burning sensation during/after urination, itching or irritation inside or around the opening of the penis; and/or discharge from the penis. Trich commonly affects women much more than men and is usually diagnosed using a vaginal swab, while in men testing is not available here in Manitoba. However trich in men is usually approached by:
- treating them if their partner screens positive for trich, and
- treating them if they have symptoms of urethritis after being tested negative for chlamydia and gonorrhea
Untreated trich is linked to infertility or low sperm count in males and can also be a risk factor to contract other STIs including HIV. Like other STIs, it is not possible to diagnose trich based on symptoms alone. So the best way forward is to see your doctor or a testing nurse, who will examine you and suggest an appropriate diagnostic test and treatment. Trich is easily treated with an antibiotic.
Trich is not spread through casual social contact like hugging, sharing food, drinks, toilet seats, kissing or coughing. It can be prevented by using a condom (internal / external) and having a conversation with your partner(s) about the potential risk of STIs can go a long way in making informed choices for a healthy sexual life.