Trichomoniasis -- an infection from a parasite spread primarily through sexual intercourse -- is contagious but curable. An estimated 7.4 million new cases of this sexually transmitted disease occur each year in men and women. In the majority of men, it doesn't cause symptoms, which makes it notoriously difficult to diagnose. However, women usually have symptoms more frequently, which may include genital discomfort and vaginal discharge. A woman's symptoms may be more pronounced right after menstruation or during pregnancy.
Left untreated, the parasite may infect tissues throughout the urinary tract and reproductive system. In women, vulnerable sites for infection include the vagina, urethra, cervix, and bladder. In men, the infection may spread to the urethra and the prostate gland, seminal vesicles, and epididymis.
Problems with sexual functioning are common, affecting more than half of all couples at some time. Although sexual dysfunction rarely threatens physical health, it can take a heavy psychological toll, bringing on depression, anxiety, and debilitating feelings of inadequacy. Many sexual problems are actually symptoms of other more serious heath disorders and should be evaluated by a health care provider.
The major categories of sexual dysfunction in men include:
Genital inflammation caused by trichomoniasis can increase a woman's risk of getting HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), which can lead to AIDS. If a woman is already infected with HIV, there may also be an increased risk of infecting her sex partner with HIV.
What Causes Trichomoniasis?
The culprit behind trichomoniasis is a protozoan parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis, which usually is transmitted sexually. Transmission is through penis to vagina or vulva to vulva (the genital area outside the vagina).