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 most men, it doesn't cause symptoms, which makes it notoriously difficult to diagnose. However, women usually do have symptoms, 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, bladder, and various glands. In men, the infection may spread to the urethra and the prostate gland, seminal vesicles, and epididymis.
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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).