While not considered as dangerous as some other sexually transmitted diseases (STD) (like HIV), trichomoniasis (or “trich”) is a very common STD that's caused by infection with a protozoan parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. An estimated 7.4 million new cases (pdf) of trichomoniasis occur each year in women and men. And like most other sexually transmitted infections (STI), the parasite is usually passed from an infected person to an uninfected person during unprotected sex.
Symptoms of trichomoniasis vary - but women are more symptomatic than men, and most of the women and men who have the parasite cannot tell they are infected. According to the CDC, about 70-85% of infected people do not show any signs or symptoms of infection. And that's why many healthcare professionals consider this STD, "trichy".
But, don't take my word for it. Listen to these guys who Run the DMC (Downtown Medical Clinic).
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It's "trichy" because people don't realize that they're infected, and don't visit their doctor for treatment because they don't have any symptoms. Even when they do see the doctor, many providers won't test for trichomoniasis because their patients are asymptomatic. Because it often goes undiagnosed and untreated, the cycle of trich transmission continues when people have unprotected sex.
That's why trichomoniasis is often referred to as the ping-pong disease, and is also the reason why ASHA estimates of trichomoniasis infections are so much higher than CDC reports. But, the good news is that trichomoniasis is an easily treatable STI.. for now.
So, what can you do to protect yourself? First of all, become better educated about trichomoniasis.
Now that you know the facts about trich, it's up to you to know your status. Make an appointment with your local healthcare provider and specifically request STD testing, including trichomoniasis.
And last, but definitely not least - if you're going to have sex, always wear a latex condom.