Trichomoniasis refers to an infection of the genital and urinary tract causedby a protozoa (the smallest, single-celled members of the animal kingdom). Trichomonas vaginalis. This infection is passed almost 100% of the timethrough sexual contact and, occurs more often in individuals who have multiple sexual partners. The protozoanis passed to an individual by contact withinthe body fluids of an infected sexual partner. It often occurs simultaneously with other sexually transmitted diseases, especially gonorrhea.

In women, the symptoms of trichomoniasis include an unpleasant vaginal odor,and a heavy, frothy, yellow discharge from the vagina. The genital area (vulva) is often very itchy, and there is frequently pain with urination or with sexual intercourse. The labia (lips) of the vagina, the vagina itself, and thecervix (the narrowed, lowest segment of the uterus which extends into the upper part of the vagina) will be bright red and irritated.. A woman is most susceptible to infection just after having completed her menstrual period.

Men may carry the organism unknowingly, since infection in men may cause mildor no symptoms. Occasionally, a man will notice a small amount of yellowishdischarge from his penis, usually first thing in the morning. There may be some mild discomfort while urinating.

Diagnosis is easily made by taking a sample of the discharge from the woman'svagina, or from the opening of the man's penis. The sample is put on a slide, and viewed under a microscope. The protozoa, which are able to move about,are easily viewed. Usual treatment is a single large dose of metronidazole orsplit doses over the course of a week. Sexual partners of an infected individual must all be treated, to prevent the infection being passed back and forth.

Cure of trichomoniasis may be difficult to achieve with alternative treatments. Some practitioners suggest eliminating sweets and carbohydrates from the diet and supplement with antioxidants, including vitamins A, C, and E, and zinc. Naturopaths may recommend treatment with two douches (a wash used inside the vagina), alternating one in the morning and one at bedtime. One douche contains the herbs calendula (Calendula officinalis), goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), and echinacea (Echinacea spp.); the other douche contains plain yogurt. The herbal douche helps to kill the protozoa, whilethe yogurt reestablishes healthy flora in the vagina. Acidifying the vagina by douching with boric acid or vinegar may also be useful.

Prognosis is excellent with appropriate treatment of the patient and all sexual partners. Without treatment, the infection can smolder on for a very longtime, and can be passed to all sexual partners. All sexually transmitted diseases can be prevented by using adequate protection during sexual intercourse.Effective forms of protection include male and female condoms.

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