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How is Trichomoniasis Diagnosed?

Discover how trichomoniasis is diagnosed through a physical exam and lab testing. Antibiotic treatment is crucial to prevent transmission and reinfection.

  • 13 Feb 2024
  • 2 min read
  • 17 views

Trichomoniasis, commonly known as ‘trich’, is a prevalent and treatable sexually transmitted infection (STI). It is caused by the parasite Trichomonas vaginalis. It spreads through sexual intercourse, primarily in semen and vaginal fluids. Surprisingly, many individuals with trichomoniasis remain asymptomatic, making it difficult to detect. 

This asymptomatic nature means people can unknowingly transmit the infection to their sexual partners. Trichomoniasis ranks as the most common nonviral STI worldwide. Unfortunately, only about 30% of infected individuals experience symptoms. Researchers continue to investigate why some people exhibit symptoms while others remain asymptomatic.

Diagnosis of Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis diagnosis involves a physical trichomoniasis test and lab testing

  1. Physical Examination: Your healthcare provider conducts a physical examination, focusing on your genitals and discussing any symptoms you may have. For individuals assigned female at birth (AFAB), this may include a pelvic exam. During this exam, they may obtain a sample of your discharge using a cotton swab. A key indicator they may notice is a cervix that resembles a strawberry, which is a sign of trichomoniasis.
  2. Lab Testing: A lab test involves the examination of a sample of your vaginal or penile discharge under a microscope to identify signs of infection. If trichomonads, the parasites causing trichomoniasis, aren't observed under the microscope, your provider may send the swab to a lab for further testing.

If you are diagnosed with trichomoniasis, your healthcare provider may recommend testing for other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) as well.

Trichomoniasis is treated with antibiotic medications designed to eliminate the parasitic infection. Trichomoniasis can exist for months or even years if not treated. It does not resolve on its own. Throughout the duration of infection, you can transmit it to your sexual partners.

Your healthcare provider may prescribe medications such as metronidazole or tinidazole to treat trichomoniasis. Specific considerations include:

  • Individuals with vaginas typically receive metronidazole for seven days
  • A single dose of the same medication can cure up to 95% of individuals with penises.

It is crucial that both you and your sexual partners receive treatment for trichomoniasis to prevent reinfection and transmission of the infection between partners.

After completing the prescribed medication, it's important to abstain from sexual activity for one week. This period allows the drug to effectively eliminate the infection and for symptoms to clear up. Engaging in sexual activity too soon should be avoided. It can increase the risk of reinfection.

Also read:

Conclusion

Most individuals with trichomoniasis do not experience symptoms. Trichomoniasis diagnosis involves a genital trichomoniasis test and laboratory tests. Your doctor may examine vaginal fluid samples in women or urethral swabs in men under a microscope to detect the parasite. If the parasite is visible, no further tests are necessary. However, if it's not seen, additional tests are needed. These include rapid antigen and nucleic acid amplification tests. Treatment for trichomoniasis entails taking antibiotics. Also, health insurance can ensure that your finances are not impacted in case of such sudden health issues.

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