Trichomoniasis -- an infection from a parasite spread primarily through sexual intercourse -- is contagious but curable. Currently, there are an estimated 3.7 million cases of this sexually transmitted disease in men and women in the United States. 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.
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.
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, vagina to penis, or vulva to vulva (the genital area outside the vagina).