AIDS Partnership Michigan

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STIs

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CHANCROID

Chancroid is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) which is spread very easily. It is characterized by ulcers and sores on your private parts which can be very painful. This infection can be cured, but must be treated as soon as you find out you have it. If you do not get treatment for chancroid quickly, your chance of getting HIV increases.

How do I get chancroid?
You can get chancroid through sexual activity.  When your skin touches someone else's skin that has an open sore, you can get this disease. You can also get chancroid without sexual activity by contacting infected fluid from others' ulcers.

What does chancroid do to my body?
If you have chancroid, you will start to notice changes in your body between 3-10 days from when you were exposed to the infection. Some of the signs of chancroid are:

  • One or more genital ulcers
  • Pain around your groin area
  • Ulcers that begin as tender bumps and become open sores filled with fluid
  • Ulcers that are soft when you touch them

For males, the ulcer can be very painful.  With females, the sore is usually not painful, and might be harder to notice.

Is there a cure for chancroid?
Yes. Luckily if you treat it early, chancroid can be cured. When caught early, this disease can be treated with antibiotics.  If successful, signs of the disease go away and you will not spread the infection further. It is important to take all of the medicine that the doctor gives you from start to finish and to follow all of his/her instructions.

How do I find out if I have chancroid?
If you have had sexual or asexual contact with open sores or ulcers,  or are worried about chancroid for any other reason, you should get tested immediately.  Call your physician or the hotline at 1-800-872-AIDS for a referral to a testing location near you. 

How can I reduce my risk of getting chancroid?
There are many ways to reduce your risk. The best way to avoid chancroid or any STI is to not have sex. But if you choose to have sex, you can reduce your risk of getting an STI by practicing safer sex.

 

CHLAMYDIA

Chlamydia is a very common sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by bacteria. You can get chlamydia from vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Chlamydia is common in the U.S. with over 1 million cases reported each year. Among all age groups, teens and young adults have the highest rates of infection. Most females (and some males) who have chlamydia have no symptoms.  Therefore, annual testing for chlamydia is recommended for all sexually active women age 25 and under.

What does chlamydia do to me?
Many times, the signs that you have chlamydia are not obvious. This is why you must be extremely careful if you notice any of the following signs:

Girls/Women

  • Discharge from the vagina
  • Pain when peeing
  • Pain when having sex
  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • Bleeding between periods

Guys/Men

  • Discharge from the penis
  • Pain or burning when peeing

Is there a cure for chlamydia?
Yes! Luckily, chlamydia can be cured with antibiotics. If you have had chlamydia for a long time, chlamydia can lead to a more serious problem called Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), which can cause you to not be able to have babies in the future.

How do I find out if I have chlamydia?
Once you start having sex, make sure you ask your healthcare provider to test you for chlamydia at least once a year. A simple test using urine or or a swab from the infected area can determine if you or any of your partners have chlamydia. Call your physician or the hotline at 1-800-872-AIDS for a referral to a testing location near you. 

How can I reduce my risk of getting chlamydia?
There are many ways to reduce your risk. The best way to avoid chlamydia or any STI is to not have sex. But if you choose to have sex, you can reduce your risk of getting an STI. 

 

CRABS

Crabs are tiny little blood-sucking bugs (lice) that live in pubic hair and cause a lot of itching. Lice that live in the hair are not pubic (pubic hair is the hair on the front of your genital area or the crotch) lice they are head lice. Crabs have three stages of life: egg, nit and louse (just one--more than one are lice). The nits hatch within five to 10 days after they are laid.

How do I get crabs?
You get crabs by touching or just being close to someone who already has them. Even if you don't have sex, you can get crabs or give them to someone else. These little bugs can literally jump from one person's pubic hair to another's. You can get them by sleeping in a bed, wearing clothes or even from sitting on a toilet seat that the crabs live on.  Usually, crabs live in the pubic hair, but lice can also be in armpits, or mustaches. Little kids usually get them on the eye brows or eye lashes.

What do crabs do to my body?

  • Usually you'll have a lot of itching because of the lice bites.
  • Dark or bluish spots appear where you were bitten and last for several days.

Is there a cure for crabs?
Yes! You can treat crabs by putting a liquid medicine directly on your pubic hair. You can get a prescription from your doctor, and you can buy treatments in the store too. After the treatment, use a small comb to take out the lice and the eggs. Make sure you wash and dry your clothes, bedding, towels, etc. with hot water to kill crabs and their eggs.

How do I find out if I have crabs?
You can go to your healthcare provider and let him or her check you to see if you have crabs. If you don't have a healthcare provider, call the hotline at 1-800-872-AIDS for a referral to a testing location near you.

How can I reduce my risk of getting crabs?
There are many ways to reduce your risk. The best way to avoid crabs or any STI is to not have sex. But if you choose to have sex, you can reduce your risk of getting an STI. 

 

GONORRHEA

Gonorrhea is a disease caused by bacteria that live and grow in wet areas such as the penis, vagina, eyes, mouth, throat or anus. You can get gonorrhea through vaginal, oral or anal sex. A mother can also pass it to her baby during childbirth.

What does gonorrhea do to my body?
Guys/Men: Gonorrhea signs may never appear, or can appear within 1-30 days of infection. You might experience:

  • Burning or pain when peeing or defecating (pooping)
  • Unusual white, yellow or green discharge from your penis
  • Painful or swollen testicles (balls)
  • Frequent peeing

Girls/Women: Most girls won't have any symptoms, so they won't know that they are infected. If you do have symptoms, you might notice:

  • Burning or pain when peeing
  • Painful bowel movements
  • A lot more vaginal discharge that is sometimes yellow or bloody
  • Vaginal bleeding between periods
  • Abdominal (stomach) pain, lower back pain, pain during sex or a fever, which may mean that gonorrhea has become worse and turned into Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID).

If gonorrhea affects your eye, you may experience discharge, itching, redness and/or swelling. If gonorrhea affects your mouth or throat, you may experience a sore throat, and/or redness in the mouth and throat area.

Is there a cure for gonorrhea?
Yes. Gonorrhea can be cured with antibiotics. Talk with your doctor to decide what medicine is best for you. People with gonorrhea often also have chlamydia, so you might need more than one medicine.

Note: If you are pregnant or might be pregnant, ask your doctor about medicines which will not hurt the baby.

If you do not treat gonorrhea you may experience:

Guys/Men

  • Infertility (not being able to have children)
  • Redness or swelling of the penis and testicles (balls)

Girls/Women

  • PID, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
  • Infertility (not being able to have children)
  • Irregular (not on time) periods, and long lasting period problems
  • Miscarriages (baby dies before it is born), if you are pregnant

You may also get Disseminated Gonococcal Infection (DGI), a disease that occurs when untreated gonorrhea spreads to the skin, heart, blood, and joints. This can cause other problems like arthritis, blood infections, skin lesions, meningitis, and swelling of the lining of the heart.

How do I find out if I have gonorrhea?
Many people with gonorrhea don't know it and have no symptoms. The only way to find out if you have it is to get tested. Call your physician or the hotline at 1-800-872-AIDS for a referral to a testing location near you. 

How can I reduce my risk of getting gonorrhea?
There are many ways to reduce your risk. The best way to avoid gonorrhea or any STI is to not have sex. But if you choose to have sex, you can reduce your risk of getting an STI by practicing safer sex.

 

HEPATITIS

Hepatitis is a serious virus that can attack the liver. There are 5 types of hepatitis. The most common types are Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C.

How do I get hepatitis?

Hepatitis A

  • Household contact with a person with hepatitis A
  • Contact with blood (like sharing needles or other injecting equipment)
  • Contact with feces (poop) of an infected person (by eating or drinking something infected with feces of someone who has the disease, by oral to anal contact, or by handling a condom after anal sex)

Hepatitis B

  • Coming into contact with blood of an infected person
  • Having sex with infected person
  • Sharing injection drug needles or others items used to shoot up drugs (works, cotton, cookers, etc.)

Hepatitis C

  • Coming into contact with blood of infected person (for example: Using a razor with blood on it, or sharing needles when injecting drugs
  • You can also get hepatitis C from sex with an infected partner, but sex is not a common way to get hepatitis C

What does hepatitis do to my body?
Hepatitis can cause a number of problems, including: yellow eyes and skin, stomach pain or swelling, muscle weakness, joint pain, rashes, nausea or vomiting, dark urine (pee), loss of appetite, fever, and tiredness.  Sometimes there are no signs at first.  It is very important to get tested to see if you have hepatitis.

Is there a cure for hepatitis?
No. There is no cure, but there are medicines to treat hepatitis. There are also vaccines for hepatitis A and hepatitis B that will prevent the disease. Ask your healthcare provider about them.

How do I find out if I have hepatitis?
Ask your doctor for a hepatitis test. Call your physician or the hotline at 1-800-872-AIDS for a referral to a testing location near you. 

How can I reduce my risk of getting hepatitis?
There are a lot of ways to reduce your risk for getting an STI, including hepatitis. Here are some specific tips to reduce your risk for hepatitis:

  • Don't have sex.  Vaginal, anal or oral sex can pass hepatitis.
  • Use condoms. If you do decide to have sex, use latex condoms or other barriers (dams, plastic wrap etc) if you do have vaginal, anal or oral sex.
  • Always wash your hands after going to the bathroom or changing a baby's diaper.
  • Don't share injection drug needles. If you do inject drugs, make sure you use only clean needles, syringes and other works. Never share needles, syringes and other works. And get tested for HIV every year.

 

HERPES

Herpes is a very common skin disease. It's caused by a virus and can affect your mouth (oral) and/or the area around the penis or vagina (genital), upper thighs or buttocks. Most of the time, it is hard to notice herpes, so most people don't know they have it. Cold sores and fever blisters are an example of herpes in your mouth.

How do I get herpes?
Herpes is transmitted through direct skin-to-skin contact. You can get herpes from touching someone else's skin that has herpes, including:

  • Kissing someone with a cold sore
  • Oral, anal and vaginal sex
  • Touching any area infected with herpes

You can get herpes even if you can't see it. Genital herpes can be transmitted sexually both when a person has noticeable symptoms and when they don't.

What does herpes do to my body?
Most people don't know they have herpes. You can find out that you have herpes a few days or as late as years after getting it. Herpes usually affects the mouth and the area around the penis or vagina, buttocks or upper thighs.

Some signs of herpes are:

  • Blisters, bumps, or pimples on the infected area that crust over
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Pain while peeing

Herpes sometimes looks like bug bites, rash, jock itch, zipper burn, razor burn, irritation from sex, or yeast infection.  It is easy to confuse symptoms of herpes with these types of symptoms. The only way to know if you have herpes is to get tested.

Is there a cure for herpes?
No, herpes can't be cured. Once the virus enters your body, you can't get rid of it. But there are to treat herpes that can lower the number of herpes outbreaks you have. Herpes is usually not harmful, but it can make it easier for you to receive HIV if you're exposed. ASHA's website has more information about herpes treatment.

How do I find out if I have herpes?
If you have symptoms that you think might be herpes, you should go see a healthcare provider no later than 48 hours after noticing the symptom. If you don't have symptoms, you can ask for a "herpes type-specific IgG " blood test. Call your physician or the hotline at 1-800-872-AIDS for a referral to a testing location near you. 

How can I reduce my risk of getting herpes?
There are many ways to reduce your risk. The best way to avoid herpes or any STI is to not have sex. And since herpes is transmitted by skin-to-skin contact, you can contract herpes even if you don't have intercourse.

You can protect yourself by using a latex condom every time you have sex. Condoms don't provide complete protection against herpes, but they can help. Since herpes can be transmitted during oral sex, using condoms or a dental dam during oral sex can also help reduce your risk.

 

HPV AND GENITAL WARTS

HPV, or human papilloma virus, is the name of a group of viruses that has more than 100 different types. HPV is sometimes called the wart virus because some types of HPV cause warts on the hands, feet or genitals. Some other types (that don’t cause warts) can turn into cancer over many, many years. Most cases of HPV are not dangerous, though, and ASHA recommends getting the HPV vaccine, along with Pap and HPV tests when appropriate.

HPV is the most common STI in the United States, but most people don’t know they have it or that they can spread the virus to a partner.

How do I get HPV?
HPV and genital warts are spread when you have skin-to-skin contact, even if you don’t go “all the way.”  So just rubbing genitals together with someone who already has the virus can result in your getting it too.  Condoms are a smart idea:  while they don’t offer 100% protection, using condoms consistently and correctly can really reduce the risk of getting HPV and other STIs.

Is there a cure for HPV?
No. HPV is a virus and there is no direct treatment for the virus. There is treatment for the conditions HPV might cause, like genital warts (see Can genital warts be treated? below). Most people never have a problem with HPV because their body's immune system keeps the virus from ever becoming a problem.

You should see your healthcare provider if:

  • You notice any unusual growths, bumps or skin changes on or near the penis, vagina, vulva, anus, scrotum or groin (where the genital area meets the inner thigh).
  • If you see a bump that wasn't there before or your skin just doesn't look the way it usually does.
  • Your sex partner(s) tells you that he or she has HPV.

To be tested for HPV/genital warts, call your physician or the hotline at 1-800-872-AIDS for a referral to a testing location near you. 

What are genital warts?
Genital warts are usually harmless and often go away on their own in a few months. They may be:

  • Skin color, or red or white in appearance
  • Flat (smooth on the skin)
  • Raised (like a bump or skin growth)
  • Single (only one wart)
  • Multiple (more than one in the same area or many areas)
  • Small or large

Genital warts can be found on the penis, scrotum, vulva (entire outer female genital area), vagina (inside or out), anus (inside or out) or groin.

Can genital warts be treated?
Genital warts can be removed, and your healthcare provider can offer several treatment options. Some things to think about before getting any treatment for genital warts:

  • If you are pregnant or think you might be, tell your healthcare provider so a treatment can be chosen that won't hurt you or the baby.
  • Ask your healthcare provider to tell you about the treatment, including how much it costs and the good things about it.
  • Be sure you know what to do after you have the treatment done, like what to do about any itching, burning or pain, and when to come back to the office or clinic.
  • Be patient, most people have to be treated more than once or your healthcare provider may have to try more than one treatment.
  • Some healthcare providers may tell you not to have sex while having treatment. This is to protect the treated areas of skin and help it heal.
  • It's okay to ask the healthcare provider questions. They are there to help you and explain what is happening if you have any questions.

When should I get a Pap test?
It is generally recommended that young women have their first Pap test at age 21. Talk with your healthcare provider about your Pap test schedule.

Should I be afraid of getting cancer?
HPV is a very common virus, but most females with HPV do not get cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is slow-growing and usually takes years to come along.  Regular Pap tests (ask your healthcare provider how often you should have yours) are important, though.

What about HPV vaccines?
There currently are two HPV vaccines available in the U.S., Gardasil® and Cervarix®. The vaccines can be used with females and males ages 9-26.  Here are some facts:

  • It is best to get vaccinated against HPV before you start having sex.
  • Studies show both vaccines are almost 100% effective at blocking the two HPV types most commonly found with cervical cancers.
  • In addition, Gardasil® also works well against the two types of HPV found in most cases of genital warts (the HPV types found with warts don’t cause cervical cancer).
  • There are three shots. Once you get the first shot, you need a second shot two months later. You need to get a third shot six months after you get the first shot.
  • HPV vaccines don’t protect against all types of the virus. Females who receive an HPV vaccine still need regular Pap tests as recommended by their healthcare provider.
  • Research is being done to see how well the vaccines might protect against other cancers that HPV can cause (such as those of the penis, anus, and head and neck). Experts are hopeful the vaccines will have value in protecting against these diseases, too.

 

MOLLUSCUM CONTAGIOSUM

Molluscum contagiosim is a skin disease caused by the molluscum contagiosum virus (MCV). MCV usually causes one or more small lesions/bumps. Molluscum contagiosum may be sexually transmitted by skin-to-skin contact and/or contact with lesions. It can also be transmitted non-sexually from objects like towels and clothing that come in contact with the lesions.

If you have MCV, it is possible for you to transmit the virus from one part of your body to another by touching or scratching a lesion and then touching another part of the body.

What are the symptoms?
Lesions or bumps are usually present on the thighs, buttocks, groin and lower abdomen of adults, and may occasionally appear on the external genital and anal region. Children who are infected typically develop lesions on the face, trunk, legs and arms.

The lesions can be flesh-colored, gray-white, yellow or pink. They can cause itching or tenderness in the area, but in most cases the lesions cause few problems. Remember that only a healthcare provider or clinic can diagnose you.

Can molluscum be treated?
Most symptoms will go away on their own, but generally lesions or bumps are removed to reduce the risk of transmitting it to other people. Lesions can be removed surgically and/or treated with a chemical to remove them.

How can I reduce my risk?
Because transmission through sexual contact is the most common form of transmission for adults, preventing skin-to-skin contact with an infected partner will be most effective in preventing MCV.  Latex condoms or other moisture barriers for vaginal, oral, and anal sex may help, but condoms don't protect from contact with other areas such as the scrotum or anal area.

If you do get molluscum contagiosum, avoid touching the lesion and then touching another part of the body without washing your hands to prevent chance of autoinoculation.   If you suspect you have molluscum contagiosum, call your physician or the hotline at 1-800-872-AIDS for a referral to a testing location near you. 

 

NGU (NONGONOCOCCAL URETHRITIS)

Nongonococcal urethritis (NGU) is an infection of the urethra (the tube that carries urine out of your body) that is not caused by gonorrhea. NGU is most often caused by chlamydia.

How do I get NGU?
You can get NGU by touching your mouth, penis, vagina or anus, to someone else's penis, vagina or anus (who has NGU).

NGU is more common in guys than girls. Guys may have discharge (strange liquid) from the penis, burning, pain while peeing, and itching, irritation or tenderness around the opening of the penis.

Because a girl might not have any symptoms, she may not know she has NGU until severe problems occur. Girls/women might have discharge from the vagina, burning or pain when peeing, pain in the abdominal (stomach) area, or bleeding from the vagina that is not from a monthly period. (This may be an sign that NGU has become worse and turned into Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, or PID.)

Is there a cure for NGU?
Yes, NGU can be cured with antibiotics. Your healthcare provide can prescribe the right treatment for you. Note: If you are pregnant or might be pregnant, ask your doctor about medicines which will not harm the baby.

If you do not treat NGU, it can cause infertility (being unable to have children), problems in pregnancy, like low birth weight, early delivery, miscarriage, and eye, ear and lung infections in newborn babies.

How do I find out if I have NGU?
Go to your healthcare provider and get tested. If you don't have a regular healthcare provider, call the hotline at 1-800-872-AIDS for a referral to a testing location near you. 

How can I reduce my risk of getting NGU?
There are many ways to reduce your risk. The best way to avoid NGU or any STI is to not have sex. But if you choose to have sex, you can reduce your risk of getting an STI.

 

PELVIC INFLAMMATORY DISEASE

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) of the female reproductive system.

PID is usually caused when another STI such as chlamydia or gonorrhea is left untreated. If you have one of these two infections don't do anything to get rid of them, you are much more likely to get PID.

What does PID do to my body?
Most of the time, the signs that you have PID are not very obvious, and sometimes there are no signs at all. This is why you must be extremely careful if you notice any of the following:

  • Cramping, pain, or temderness in the pelvic or lower abdominal (stomach) area
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Increased or different discharge from your vagina
  • Pain when having sex
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Fever

Is there a cure for PID?
Yes.  Luckily, if you treat it early, PID can be cured with antibiotics. If you have had the disease for a long time before you find it, you may have to be hospitalized in order to get the necessary treatment.

How do I find out if I have PID?
If you have taken part in any sexual activity and notice any of the above signs of PID, you should visit a doctor's office or clinic to get tested as soon as possible. Call your physician or the hotline at 1-800-872-AIDS for a referral to a testing location near you. 

How can I reduce my risk of getting PID?
There are many ways to reduce your risk. The best way to avoid PID  or any STI is to not have sex. But if you choose to have sex, you can reduce your risk of getting an STI.

 

SCABIES

Scabies is similar to pubic lice, but the bugs are too small to be seen. The bugs dig under the skin.

How can I get scabies?
Scabies spreads quickly in places where there a lot of people like in hospitals, day care centers and nursing homes.  In order to get scabies, you have to be around someone who has it for a long time (not just a quick handshake). It is more likely that you will get it if you spend the night with someone who has scabies and if you sleep in the same bed.

What does scabies do to my body?
For a person who has never had scabies, it may take 4-6 weeks for signs to appear.  For a person who has had scabies before, signs appear within several days. Scabies causes very small itchy sores all over the body. These sores can sometimes get bacteria in them.

Scabies also causes pimple-like bumps, burrows (tunnels just under the skin) or a rash on the skin, especially the area between the fingers, where the skin folds on the wrist, elbow, or knee, the penis, the breast, or shoulder blades. Scabies is usually not on the neck or face.

Is there a way to get rid of scabies?
Yes. Your healthcare provider can prescribe treatment, a liquid medicine that you will put on areas where you have rashes or the burrows. You may itch for 2-3 weeks, but it doesn't mean you still have scabies. Your provider can give you more medicine if you keep itching past 2-3 weeks, or if the itching is very bad.

You should wash your clothes, bed sheets and towels after treatment since the bugs can live in them. You'll need to wash infected clothing and linen on the hot cycle setting (130 F) and dry on the hot cycle for at least 20 minutes. Infested clothing or linens that can't be laundered may be dry-cleaned or placed in a bag for two weeks to insure decontamination. Furniture and carpeting may be vacuumed to rid infested area of mites. Dispose of vacuum bag afterwards.

How do I find out if I have scabies?
A healthcare provider can tell you have scabies by looking at the burrows (often in a zigzag or "S" pattern) or rash. Call your physician or the hotline at 1-800-872-AIDS for a referral to a testing location near you. 

 

SYPHILIS

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by bacteria. Even though it is curable, if syphilis isn't treated, it can cause serious damage to your brain, heart, nervous system, and even lead to death.

How do I get syphilis?
Syphilis transmission can occur when infected lesions come in contact with the soft skin of the mucous membrane found inside the vagina, urethra or with an abrasion during vaginal, oral and anal sex, even if there is no sexual penetration. It is most easily spread during the first (primary) stage because symptoms usually go unnoticed. Syphilis can also be contracted from exposure to lesions or syphilitic "warts" during the secondary stage.

What does syphilis do to my body?
Syphilis affects the body in stages.

Stage 1: Primary stage

  • Sores appear in the genital (penis or vagina) area or the mouth within 10 days to 3 months after infection.
  • The sores are usually firm, round, small, and painless.
  • The sores should go away on their own, but bacteria stays in the body (without treatment).

Stage 2: Secondary stage

  • If the syphilis infection is not treated, the person may develop a rash.
  • The rash looks like rough, red or reddish brown spots that typically don't itch, on the palms of hands and bottoms of feet.
  • A person may have rashes on other parts of the body, or may have other symptoms like fever, swollen glands or hair loss.

Stage 3: Latent stage

  • If a person doesn't get treated, the infection will stay in his/her body, even though there are no symptoms. The infection is called "latent.”
  • This "latent" stage can last up to 30 years.

Stage 4: Late stage

  • If not treated, the bacteria attack other parts of the body.
  • It can attack the brain, heart, eyes, bones, liver, blood vessels, nerves and joints.
  • Blindness and brain damage can happen.

Is there a cure for syphilis?
Yes. A medicine called penicillin can cure syphilis. Your healthcare provider can prescribe this.

How do I find out if I have syphilis?
You can get tested for syphilis at your doctor's office or clinic. Syphilis can be found by blood tests or by testing fluid taken from lesions or swollen lymph nodes, which occur during primary or secondary syphilis. Call your physician or the hotline at 1-800-872-AIDS for a referral to a testing location near you. 

How can I reduce my risk of getting syphilis?
The best way to avoid syphilis is not to have vaginal, anal or oral sex. If you do choose to have sex, using condoms lowers your chances of getting syphilis.

If you or your partner has syphilis sores, it is easy to get syphilis. So, if you or your partner has syphilis sores, don't have sex until you have completed treatment.

If you have syphilis, it's important that you talk to your partner as soon as possible so she or he can get treatment. Also, it is possible to pass syphilis back and forth, so if you get treated and your partner doesn't, you may get infected again.

 

TRICHOMONIASIS

Trichomoniasis, sometimes called "trich" (pronounced "trick"), is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) that affects both females and males, although symptoms are more common in females.

Trichomoniasis is caused by the single-celled protozoan parasite, Trichomonas vaginalis. The vagina is the most common site of infection in girls and women, and the urethra (urine canal) is the most common site of infection in boys and men. The parasite is sexually transmitted through penis-to-vagina intercourse or vulva-to-vulva (the genital area outside the vagina) contact with an infected partner. Women can get the disease from infected men or women, but men usually contract it only from infected women.

How common is trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis is the most common curable STI in young, sexually active women. An estimated 7.4 million new cases occur each year in women and men.

What are the signs and symptoms of trichomoniasis?
While trichomoniasis affects both women and men, symptoms are more common in women. Most men with trichomoniasis do not have any signs or symptoms. However, some men may have a temporary irritation inside the penis, mild discharge, or notice a slight burning after peeing (urinating) or ejaculating. Some women may have signs or symptoms which include:

  • discharge that is green, yellow or grey
  • a bad smell
  • itching in or around the vagina
  • pain during sex
  • pain when peeing (urinating)

How do I know if I have trich?
If you have symptoms, see your healthcare provider. She or he will need to do a physical exam to diagnose the infection. If you don’t have a regular healthcare provider, call the hotline at 1-800-872-AIDS for a referral to a testing location near you. 

The parasite is harder to detect in men than in women. General tips for women to help their provider find out what they may have include:

  • Schedule the exam when you're not having your monthly period.
  • Don't douche 24 hours before your exam.
  • Don't use vaginal sprays 24 hours before your exam.
  • If you have sex less than 24 hours before the exam, use condoms.

What is the treatment for trich?
Trichomoniasis is curable with antibiotics. An antibiotic called Metronidazole (Flagyl) is usually prescribed. If you are prescribed treatment, use all the medicine prescribed, even if your symptoms go away. Your sex partners must also be treated, or you can get trich again. Don't have sex until all partners have finished the medication.

Pregnancy and trichomoniasis
Trichomoniasis can cause babies to be born early or with low birth weight. If you think you may be pregnant be sure to tell your healthcare provider. Women in the first three months of pregnancy should not take medicine for trich because it might hurt the baby. You can take medicine after the first three months. Talk to your healthcare provider about them.

 

VAGINITIS

Vaginitis is a name for swelling, itching, burning or infection in the vagina that can be caused my several different germs. The most common kinds of vaginitis are bacterial vaginosis (BV) and yeast, a fungus. Sometimes trichomoniasis (or trich, pronounced "trick") is called vaginitis too. Trichomoniasis is caused by a parasitic protozoa called Trichomonas vaginalis.  Vaginitis is very common. If you are like most women, you will have some kind of vaginitis at least once in your life.

How is vaginitis transmitted?
The healthy vagina has a balance of many different kinds of bacteria. "Good" bacteria help keep the vagina a little bit acidic. This keeps "bad" bacteria from growing too fast. A healthy vagina makes a mucus-like discharge that may look clear or a little milky, depending on the time of a woman's monthly cycle. When the balance between the "good" bacteria and the "bad" bacteria is upset, "bad" bacteria grow too fast and cause infections. Discharge may have a funny color or a bad smell. Sometimes these "bad" bacteria and other germs that cause vaginitis can be spread through sex.

Other things can upset the balance of the vagina too, like antibiotics (medicines), douching, tight pants, damp underwear, poor diet, vaginal products (sprays, lubricants, birth control devices), and pregnancy.

What are the symptoms of vaginitis?
The signs or symptoms of vaginitis are different, depending on the germ that you have.

Bacterial Vaginosis

  • A pasty vaginal discharge that may appear white or gray with a fishy odor that is a common symptom that may be observed during a BV infection.
  • Many women may be asymptomatic, or have very mild symptoms that go unnoticed.

YEAST
Women:

  • Abnormal discharge, itching, irritation and redness of vulva
  • Possible burning upon urination due to urine passing over inflamed vulva
  • Discomfort and inconvenience may vary considerably
  • Other STIs such as HSV, chlamydia, and gonorrhea may cause similar symptoms (such as vaginal discharge)

Men:

  • Often will have no symptoms
  • Possible slight irritation, itching or redness on penis (balanitis)
  • Other STIs such as HSV, chlamydia and gonorrhea may cause similar symptoms

How can I find out if I have vaginitis?
If you have symptoms of vaginitis, see your healthcare provider for a correct diagnosis. If you don’t have a regular provider, call the hotline at 1-800-872-AIDS for a referral to a testing location near you. 

To help your provider find out what you have:

  • Schedule the exam when you're not having your monthly period.
  • Don't douche 24 hours before your exam.
  • Don't use vaginal sprays 24 hours before your exam.
  • If you have sex less than 24 hours before the exam, use condoms.

How is vaginitis treated?
The treatment will depend on which germ is causing the infection. You healthcare provider will find the right treatment after you are diagnosed.

What does it mean for my health?
Having BV has been associated with an increased risk in developing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which is a serious infection of the uterus and fallopian tubes. BV and trichomoniasis

increase a woman's risk of getting HIV if she is exposed to a partner with HIV. Having trichomoniasis or BV may also increase the chance that an HIV-infected woman passes HIV to her partner(s).

Having BV or trichomoniasis while pregnant may put a woman at increased risk for some complications of pregnancy, including potentially having a baby born early or with low birth weight. Treatment of BV and/or trich might help reduce the risk of these complications. On the other hand, having a yeast infection during pregnancy does not typically pose any risk to the baby or the pregnancy.

How can you reduce your risk?

  • Wash your vaginal area every day. Use mild soap. Rinse well and pat dry.
  • Wipe your vagina and anus from front to back.
  • Don't douche, this can upset the natural balance of the vagina.
  • Take antibiotics only when needed. Antibiotics can kill "good" bacteria.
  • Limit the number of your sex partners. Always use latex condoms with a new partner or with multiple partners.
  • Wear cotton or cotton-lined underpants.
  • Don't wear tight pants and don't wear panty hose in hot weather.
  • See your healthcare provider if you have any unusual discharge or smell.

Should I talk to my partner about vaginitis?
This depends. Women who are not sexually active may develop BV or yeast infections. Remember that most of the time these infections are caused by an upset in the balance of bacteria that is normal in the vagina. Trichomoniasis on the other hand is sexually transmitted and it will be important for sex partners to be treated so it is not passed back and forth. It is important for partners to be treated even if they do not show any symptoms.

disclaimers & terms of use

Photos are for illustrative purposes and do not indicate anyone’s HIV status or sexual orientation.