Trich Is Most Common STD, Yet Most Women Unaware

Trichomoniasis (trich) is the most common curable sexually transmitted Infection (STI), yet only one in five (22 percent) women are familiar with it, according to a new survey commissioned by the American Sexual Health Association (ASHA). Women surveyed perceive trich as the least common STI, when in reality there are more new cases of trich annually in the US (seven to eight million) than syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea combined.

"Trich is the forgotten STI – few are aware, and few know it is easy to get tested and treated," said ASHA President and CEO Lynn B Barclay. "Yet trich poses risks to a woman's health, many of which can be prevented with a simple, easy and painless test and cured with a dose of antibiotics."

Trich is a parasite that is passed on during sex.  Only about 30 percent of people with trich develop any symptoms, which in women can include itching, burning, redness or soreness of the genitals, discomfort with urination, or a thin discharge with an unusual smell that can be clear, white, yellowish, or greenish.  Trich can also make sex unpleasant.

The CDC recommends that any sexually active woman seeking treatment for vaginal discharge should be tested for trich. However, 65 percent of women surveyed would not seek medical attention if they experienced unusual symptoms, instead waiting to see if the symptoms go away or treating themselves with over-the-counter medicine.

Pregnant women with trich are more likely to have preterm or low birth weight (less than 5.5 pounds) babies. Trich also increases the risk of acquiring and transmitting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Among women surveyed who were concerned about contracting an STD, nearly half (49 percent) worry about trich increasing their risk of HIV.

ASHA recommends that women encourage their partners to get tested, as one in five people can be reinfected within three months of treatment.  "Women – treat your man.  You could be at risk for trich even if you have only one sexual partner," said Barclay.  "Trich is often symptomless and can last for many months, meaning a person can be infected before meeting their current partner." According to the survey, 63 percent of women cite having only one sex partner as a reason they would not get tested for trich.  

"Bottom Line: Testing for trich is simple, easy, and painless. Trich can be easily cured. If you have symptoms, seek medical attention and get tested for trich." Barclay adds, "Preventing STIs is a key aspect of sexual health. Being able to communication with our partners and health care providers is essential."

For more information on trich and other sexually transmitted infections, please visit ashastd.org.