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Understanding Trichomoniasis in Women (Originate from Where)

Updated on October 8, 2013

Trichomoniasis is the name given to an infection with Trichomonas vaginalis, normally abbreviated as TV. TV is a motile protozoan from the same family of organisms as the amoebae that you may have studied in school.

It is a single cell with an undulating membrane (rather like a flouncy skirt) and five flagella (whip-like structures sticking out of the end). The flagella beat rapidly so that, under a microscope, the Trichomoniasis organism seems to spin around in a busy way.

It is not a virus, a bacterium or a yeast, but the next grade up in complexity in the microbe world. Unlike the microbes that cause Bacterial Vaginosis or candidal infection, Trichomoniasis does not occur naturally in the vagina.

Where does Trichomoniasis come from?

It has to come from elsewhere, almost always from a sexual partner. After sexual exposure to Trichomoniasis the usual incubation period (the time between contact with an infected person and the appearance of symptoms) is 5 to 28 days.

Symptoms of Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis usually causes severe inflammation although, like other vaginal infections, there may be no symptoms at all (asymptomatic). However, this asymptomatic state is rare with Trichomoniasis.

The typical vaginal discharge of Trichomoniasis contains pus and sometimes blood streaks, and often means that you have to resort to panty liners to protect against constant wetness. The inflammation affects the whole of your vagina and, importantly, the vaginal surface of your cervix.

Your vulva is also affected by the vaginal discharge spilling over it, and becomes sore and red. This may even extend down to your thighs.

The inflammation of your cervix may be so bad that the lab cannot read your cervical smear. It may report just seeing TV on it. A repeat smear will be necessary after treatment for Trichomoniasis.

Trichomoniasis does not have any long-term consequences or complications. It is important because it is commonly found with more serious infections such as gonorrhoea and chlamydial infection. As TV causes symptoms, and gonorrhoea and chlamydial infection usually do not, Trichomoniasis is a trigger to look for the other two infections.


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