News & Politics

Trichomoniasis: The STD They Never Told Us About

(Wikimedia Commons)

Most people have a working knowledge of STDs whether they really wanted one or not. After all, most of us were required to take a middle school or high school health class.

Yet trichomoniasis wasn’t included, despite it being pretty common. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that it’s the most common curable STD in the country, with around 3.7 million cases annually.

A report out of Grand Forks, North Dakota, indicates health officials are seeing new cases.

The symptoms of trichomoniasis are part of the issue with identifying the disease. For men and women, the symptoms include a foul-smelling discharge, genital itching, and painful urination. Sounds like other STDs we’re more familiar with.

However, that’s if a person has symptoms. The CDC claims that 70 percent of those infected show none, and based on the report from Grand Forks, that includes the bulk of men with the disease.

Trichomoniasis is curable, as it’s the result of a protozoan parasite that can be treated with oral medications, but because many people are unaware it’s there, they often don’t get the treatment required. Further, people spread it without realizing they have the condition.

But if most show no symptoms, what’s the problem?

For starters, it can lead to premature birth in pregnant women, and the babies tend to have low birthweights. Further, due to the genital inflammation that trichomoniasis can cause, it can make those with the disease far more likely to contract HIV.

It’s easy to pretend that we’ve beaten all the STDs — and, in a way, we have beaten most of them — but they’re still out there, and they’re a risk for anyone who doesn’t take the standard precautions when engaging in sexual intercourse.

Of course, the CDC suggests condoms or committed monogamous relationships. Once again, the government doesn’t mention abstinence as a means of prevention. Yet it’s worth noting that, per the CDC, condoms are not 100 percent effective against trichomoniasis — and not because of condom failure:

[T]he parasite can infect areas that are not covered by a condom — so condoms may not fully protect you from getting trichomoniasis.

Just one more thing to keep in mind.