How can we help with Trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection. It is also known as trichomonas vaginalis, trichomonas and tends to be shortened to TV. It is a very common STI and is caused by a tiny parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis (TV).
General information –
How’s trichomoniasis passed on
You cannot get TV from anal or oral sex. Nor can it be passed via kissing, hugging etc.
What causes Trichomoniasis?
TV is caused by a tiny organism called Trichomonas vaginalis. It is capable of infecting the vagina, urethra and under the foreskin of the penis. Once it begins, it spreads easily via gential contact. P
A person who is sexually active can get it and pass it on. You don’t need to have lots of sexual partners.
Please note that it is not spread via other normal physical contact such as hugging or kissing.
Signs and Symptoms of Trichomoniasis
What are the signs and symptoms?
TV symptoms usually develop within a month of infection. Up to 50% of people will not develop them however it is important to remember that they can still pass the infection to others. Symptoms include:
- Soreness, inflammation (pain, redness or swelling) or itching in and around the vagina. This can cause discomfort when having sex.
- A change in vaginal discharge.There may be a small amount or a lot, and it may be thick or thin, or frothy and yellow-green. There may also be a strong smell that may be unpleasant.
- Pain, or a burning sensation, when passing urine.
- A discharge from the penis.This discharge may be thin and whitish.
- Inflammation of the foreskin (this is uncommon).
How will I know if I have
To find out if you have TV, a test will need to be done. They are provided if you exhibit signs and symptoms or have had another STI, a sexual partner who has TV or another STI, have had unprotected sex with a new partner, if you or your partner have had unprotected sex with others.
If your practitioner notices something unusual during a vaginal examination i.e. discharge or inflammation, they may advice you to do a test.
If you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, you may also be adviced too.
You could still have trichomonas even if a partner has tested negative.
If you have trichomonas, you should be tested for other sexually transmitted infections as you can have more than one sexually transmitted infection at once.
How soon after sex can I have a check-up?
If you think you may have TV (or any other STI), it is essential to not delay doing a test. A test can be carried out as soon as possible but you may be asked to do another some time afterwards.
You can have a test for TV even if you do not show any signs or symptoms.
What does the test involve?
There are numerous ways of testing TV:
- You may be asked to give a urine sample.
- If you have a vagina, a doctor or nurse may take a swab from the vagina during an internal examination or you may be asked to use a swab yourself.
- If you have a penis, a doctor or nurse may use a swab to collect a sample from the entrance to the urethra (tube that carries urine out the body) at the tip of the penis.
A swab looks like a cotton bud, but is smaller and rounded. It sometimes has a small plastic loop on the end rather than a cotton tip. It is rubbed against the area that needs sampling e.g the vagina, around the labia or external genitalia.This only takes a few seconds, is not painful but may be temporarily uncomfortable.
Sometimes your sample can be looked at under a microscope and you can get the result straight away. Otherwise, you may have to wait up to 10 days.
Routine blood tests don’t detect trichomonas. If you don’t know if you’ve been tested for trichomonas, just ask.
Where can I get a TV test?
There are a number of services you can go to. Choose the service you feel most comfortable with. A trichomonas test can be done at:
- a genitourinary medicine (GUM) or sexual health clinic
- some general practices – ask a doctor or practice nurse
- some contraception clinics and young people’s services.
How accurate are the tests?
The accuracy of a TV test depends on the kind of test used and the type of sample that’s collected.The recommended tests are over 95% accurate in picking up TV.
As no test is 100% accurate there’s a small chance that the test will give a negative result when you do have the infection.This is known as a false negative result. This can sometimes explain why you might get a different result when you go to a different clinic to have another test or why you and a partner might get a different test result.
It’s possible for the test to be positive if you haven’t got TV, but this is rare.
What’s the treatment for Chlamydia?
Chlamydia is treated with antibiotics. If you take the treatment according to instructions, it’s over 95% effective at treating genital chlamydia.
- You’ll be given antibiotic tablets either as a single dose or a longer course (up to two weeks).
- If there’s a high chance you have the infection, treatment may be started before the results of the test are back.You’ll always be given treatment if a sexual partner is found to have chlamydia.
- You may also need other treatment if complications have occurred.
- Do tell the doctor or nurse if you’re pregnant, or think you might be, or you’re breastfeeding. This may affect the type of antibiotic that you’re given.
- There is currently no evidence that complementary therapies can cure chlamydia.
When will the signs and symptoms go away?
You should notice an improvement quite quickly after having treatment.
- Discharge or pain when you urinate should improve within a week.
- Bleeding between periods or heavier periods should improve by your next period.
- Pelvic pain and pain in the testicles should start to improve quickly but may take up to two weeks to go away.
If you have pelvic pain or painful sex that doesn’t improve, see your doctor or nurse as it may be necessary to have some further treatment or investigate other possible causes of the pain.
Will chlamydia go away without treatment?
It can, but it can take a long time. If you delay seeking treatment you risk the infection causing long-term damage and you may pass the infection on to someone else.
Do I need a test to check the chlamydia has gone?
If you take the treatment according to the instructions you won’t normally need a follow-up test. However, you should go back to the service if:
- you think you may have come into contact with chlamydia again
- you had unprotected sex with a partner before
- the treatment for both of you was finished
- you didn’t complete the treatment or didn’t take it according to the instructions
- the signs and symptoms don’t go away
- your test was negative but you develop signs or symptoms of chlamydia
In these situations you may need a repeat test. This can be done 5–6 weeks after the first test. You may need more antibiotics. If you were treated for chlamydia in pregnancy you’ll be advised to have another test. You can go back to the doctor, nurse or clinic if you have any questions or need advice on how to protect yourself from infection in the future.
What happens if chlamydia isn’t treated?
Only some people who have chlamydia will
have complications. If chlamydia is treated early, it’s unlikely to cause any long-term problems. However, without proper treatment the infection can spread to other parts of the body.The more times you have chlamydia the more likely you are to get complications.
- In women, chlamydia can spread to
other reproductive organs causing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).This can lead to long-term pelvic pain, blocked fallopian tubes, infertility and ectopic pregnancy (when the pregnancy develops outside the uterus, usually in a fallopian tube).
- In women, chlamydia can also cause pain and inflammation around the liver.This usually gets better with the correct antibiotic treatment.
- In men, chlamydia can lead to infection in the testicles and possibly reduce fertility.
- Rarely, chlamydia can lead to inflammation of the joints in both men and women.This is known as Sexually Acquired Reactive Arthritis (SARA) and it is sometimes accompanied by inflammation of the urethra (tube where urine comes out) and the eye.This is more likely to occur in men than women.
How soon can I have sex again?
Don’t have oral, vaginal or anal sex, or use sex toys, until seven days after you and your partner(s) have both finished the treatment and any symptoms have gone.This is to help prevent you being re-infected or passing the infection on to someone else. If you’re given antibiotic treatment called azithromycin that you take for only one day you’ll still need to avoid sex for seven days after you have taken the tablets.
Should I tell my partner(s)?
If the test shows that you have chlamydia then it’s very important that your current sexual partner(s) and any other recent partners are also tested and treated.
You may be given a ‘contact slip’ to send or give to your partner(s) or, with your permission, the clinic can contact your partner(s) for you.This is called partner notification. It can sometimes be done by text message.The message or contact slip will say that they may have been exposed to a sexually transmitted infection and suggest they go for a check-up. It may or may not say what the infection is. It won’t have your name on it, so your confidentiality is protected.
You’re strongly advised to tell your partner(s), but it isn’t compulsory.The staff at the clinic or general practice can discuss with you which of your sexual partners may need to be tested.
Will chlamydia affect my fertility?
Chlamydia is just one of many factors that can affect your fertility. Most women who’ve had chlamydia won’t become infertile or have an ectopic pregnancy. If you’ve had chlamydia you won’t normally be offered any routine tests to see if you’re fertile unless you or your partner are having difficulty in getting pregnant. If you’re concerned, talk to your doctor or practice nurse.
What happens if I get chlamydia when I’m pregnant?
- Chlamydia during pregnancy has been associated with problems such as premature (early) birth, and infection of the uterus (womb) lining after the birth.
- It can be passed to the baby during the birth and (less commonly) before the baby is born. This can cause inflammation and discharge in the baby’s eye(s) (conjunctivitis) and/or pneumonia.
- Chlamydia can be treated with antibiotics when you’re pregnant and when you’re breastfeeding. The antibiotics won’t harm the baby, but do tell the doctor or nurse that you’re pregnant.
- You may be offered a chlamydia test as part of your antenatal care.
Does chlamydia cause cervical cancer?
No, chlamydia doesn’t cause cervical cancer.
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