This STD is usually not included in the basic tests regarding sexual health.
Do you remember that fabulous scene in Mean Girls (2004) when, in her attempt to make new friends, Caddy skips the Sex-Ed class given by the school's coach? For me, that’s one of the funniest parts of the movie (which is in itself quite hilarious). The coach, who proves to be ignorant on the subject, irresponsibly tells a group of teenagers to “not have sex because [they’ll] get pregnant and die”. Now, I must say that I did have really good health lessons at high school, but let’s face it: these are classes that at that age make you cringe or you take them as a joke, and that’s exactly the punchline in the movie. Most of the lessons about sex aren’t well explained while none of the students actually take them seriously. Did you really take notes or pay special attention to these? Classes of this type taught us useless information like how to put a condom on a cucumber and stuff like that. We might've paid attention to all sort of scary stories about STDs and how you get them. But, even in the best lessons, there’s something that slips the common agenda, and that’s the disease we’re going to talk about today.
We all know (I really hope you do) that unprotected sex can be the worst idea in the world. Not only do you take the risk of getting pregnant (in case you don’t want to), but you also expose yourself to an array of sexually transmitted infections. Now, we’ve heard of HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and so on, but there is one silent infection people generally don’t speak about, and it’s way more common than the others: trichomoniasis or trichomonas.
Read more: The Sexually Transmitted Virus That Affects 80% Of Young People And Mostly No One Knows About
So, what is this exactly? The infection consists on a single-celled parasite that is transmitted through contact. It feeds and reproduces in warm environments. For that reason, it’s more common to be found in women due to the natural moisture and warmth of the vagina. However, women can get it are not the only ones who can acquire it. The thing with trichomoniasis is that it’s very hard to know if you have it, since in many cases it doesn’t present any symptoms, and if it does, they appear a month or so later. So, basically, you can be spreading the infection without you knowing it.
Now, here are the lovely symptoms. Women present the more evident and uncomfortable ones. These include atypical and abundant vaginal discharges (generally of a thick consistency that can range from white, yellow, or green, with a very potent smell), pain when urinating and having sex, soreness, itching, and inflammation of the vagina and inner thighs, cramps (similar to those experienced during menstruation), as well as bleeding after sex. As for men, they also present irritation in the genitalia (mostly in the urethra and prostate), swelling, soreness, pain during sex, and a constant need to urinate.
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Again, while the symptoms might take time to appear, the dangerous thing is that trichonoma increases the chances of getting another STD such as HIV. Now, as many websites will tell you, don’t panic. This has a very simple solution called antibiotics. Following the proper treatment will have you in the clear in no more than seven days. Not that bad, right? It’s recommended that, while you’re in the treatment and until you get a second test confirming that the parasite is in your body, you shouldn’t have sex with anyone because you’re still contagious. Moreover, failing to follow the doctor's indications to a T can result in the parasite reproducing again or making you prone to be infected once more.
Now, it’s not only that Sex-Ed lessons fail to explain this common infection. Many people don’t get to know they have trichomonas because it’s not included in the most popular and common STD tests. So, the advice here is to ask for it whenever you get tested for general STD's. The best advice to prevent being infected is, obviously, by practicing safe sex. As I mentioned, several websites that talk about trichomonas will tell you not to worry because it’s easily treatable. This kind of speech might lead you to think there’s an easy solution, so it doesn’t really matter if you get it. But consider this: if you were able to get this simple infection, it means you were at risk of getting other STD's. The huge taboo about getting tested creates a sense of embarrassment and shame whenever we go to the lab. It shouldn’t be like that. In most cases, it’s just an act to prevent and be sure that everything is fine.