Trichomoniasis is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases or STDs that affects both women and men. Humans are the only known host “…with the trophozoite transmitted via coitus” (Wilkerson, 2006). However the occurrence of this disease is most commonly found in women. (Trichomoniasis – CDC Fact Sheet) the incidence of this disease is relatively high with an estimated 7.4 million new cases each year in women and men in the United States. (Trichomoniasis – CDC Fact Sheet) in the United States it is estimated that the incidence of this disease is more prevalent in cities with twenty – five percent of cases. (Wilkerson 2006) These figures however are not definitive, as the disease is not reportable nationally. The international figures for the number of infected cases reported by the World Health Organization is estimated at 180 million new cases of Trichomoniasis occur each year. (Wilkerson 2006)
The central causative factor that precipitates the disease is the single-celled protozoan parasite, Trichomonas vaginalis. The most common site of infection is the vagina in women and in the urethra in men. The virus is “…”sexually transmitted through penis-to-vagina intercourse or vulva-to-vulva (the genital area outside the vagina) contact with an infected partner. Women can acquire the disease from infected men or women, but men usually contract it only from infected women” (Trichomoniasis – CDC Fact Sheet). There is a comorbid factor as well and Trichomoniasis is commonly associated with co-infection with other STDs, such as Neisseria gonorrhoeae. (Wilkerson 2006)
Signs and symptoms in men include penis irritation and slight discharge, as well as a burning sensation on urination or ejaculation. Men however do not show the severity of symptoms that women experience. “Some women have signs or symptoms of infection which include a frothy, yellow-green vaginal discharge with a strong odor” (Trichomoniasis – CDC Fact Sheet). A woman who has
Trichomoniasis may also experience irritation and discomfort during intercourse or urination. In some cases pain can be experienced in the lower abdominal area. Furthermore, these symptoms can appear in the women within 5 to 28 days of exposure. The disease is usually diagnosed by means of a pelvic or genital examination. Another common method of detection is by testing a sample of vaginal or urethral discharge and by means of a Pap smear in females. (Infections: Trichomoniasis)
One of the complications that Trichomoniasis can create is an increase in a susceptibility to HIV Infection in women who are exposed to the virus. This is turn means that women with Trichomoniasis can more easily infect male sexual partners. Part of the problematics of this disease is that the symptoms of the disease in men may disappear completely after a few weeks; however even when this occurs, the male who has the disease may be able to infect female partners.
Treatment for Trichomoniasis conventionally takes the form of prescription drugs and antibiotics such metronidazole. The drug is taken orally. Another related drug used in the treatment of disease is tinidazole. In cases where the infected individual is allergic to these drugs “…Topical medicines, or medicines applied to the skin, may be used…” (Trichomoniasis: womenshealth.gov) These medicines usually only alleviate the symptoms. Another important aspect of treatment is hat both partners are usually examined and treated in cases of the disease. The aim is to eliminate the further spread of the parasite. Significantly, the disease can re-occur. “Having Trichomoniasis once does not protect a person from getting it again. Following successful treatment, people can still be susceptible to re-infection” (Trichomoniasis – CDC Fact Sheet).
Prevention is always better than cure and this applies particularly to this disease. Therefore, the most obvious way of preventing the transmission of this disease is through abstinence or by being involved in a monogamous relationship. Latex condoms can also help to reduce the transmission of the disease. These views are applicable to teaching and instruction about this disease. An awareness of the various possibilities of transmission, as well as the symptoms of the disease, is an essential aspect of the teaching process. Another aspect that should be emphasized in instruction about the disease is that the Trichomoniasis parasite “…can live outside the body for up to 45 minutes and can be contracted through contact with damp or moist objects that have the parasite on them” (Trichomoniasis).
A question that is often asked about the effects and complications of this disease is to what extent does it have an adverse affect on pregnant women who contract the disease? While metronidazole can be used by women who are pregnant, it has been noted that, “Pregnant women with trichomoniasis may have babies who are born early or with low birth weight. Low birth weight is calculated at less then five pounds” (Trichomoniasis – CDC Fact Sheet). Medical opinion concurs that women should not take metronidazole during the initial first three months of pregnancy. However, doctors are of the opinion that the drug can be safely taken after the end of the first trimester. (Trichomoniasis)
Infections: Trichomoniasis. Retrieved May 22, at http://www.kidshealth.org/parent/infections/std/trichomoniasis.html
Trichomoniasis – CDC Fact Sheet. Retrieved May 22, at http://www.cdc.gov/std/Trichomonas/STDFact-Trichomoniasis.htm#WhatIs
Trichomoniasis: womenshealth.gov. Retrieved May 22, at http://www.4woman.gov/faq/stdtrich.htm
Wilkerson R.G. Trichomoniasis. Retrieved May 22, at http://www.emedicine.com/emerg/topic613.htm
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