Trichomoniasis is a protozoal infestation of the vagina, urethra, or prostate. It is a common STD with about 7.4 million new cases occurring each year in women and men.
Trichomonas vaginalis, a motile protozoan, is the cause of trichomoniasis. The disease usually is transmitted via sexual intercourse or vulva to vulva contact with an infected partner. Women may increase their susceptibility to Trichomonas infection by using vaginal sprays and over-the-counter douches. These preparations may change the natural flora of the vagina such that a more hospitable environment for the parasite is created.
Signs and Symptoms
From 10% to 25% of the females with trichomoniasis are asymptomatic. When symptoms occur, they are usually those of acute vaginitis: a strongsmelling, greenish yellow, frothy vaginal discharge, possibly accompanied by itching, swelling, dyspareunia, and dysuria. Symptoms may persist for several months if untreated.
In most males, the disease is asymptomatic. When symptoms are present, they are typically those of urethritis, such as dysuria and urinary frequency.
The diagnosis of trichomoniasis is facilitated by wet-mount microscopic examination of vaginal or seminal discharges. The disease also may be detected through urinalysis.
The treatment of choice is oral metronidazole (Flagyl). Alcohol should be avoided during and for 24 to 48 hours after treatment because of its adverse reaction with Flagyl. Treatment of all partners with antiparasitic drugs usually cures trichomoniasis. After treatment, there should be a follow-up examination.
Following diagnosis and treatment of trichomoniasis by a primary care provider, many naturopaths recommend the following:
- Increase good bacteria or probiotics found in products like yogurt.
- Herbs, such as garlic, echinacea, goldenseal, and tea tree oil, may be formulated.
- Eliminate all sugar from the diet, and take a good multivitamin each day.
Practicing abstinence during treatment periods is recommended.
The prognosis is good with proper treatment, although reinfection may occur.
Over-the-counter douches and vaginal sprays should be avoided; abstinence or the use of condoms is recommended. Being in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship with a partner known not to be infected is encouraged. Introducing more probiotics into the diet and eliminating all sugar may prove to be quite helpful.