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Women Warned Of 'Little-Known' STI More Common Than Gonorrhoea

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Women Warned Of 'Little-Known' STI More Common Than Gonorrhoea

Have you heard about trichomonas vaginalis (TV)?

You may not be aware, but the STI is actually more common than gonorrhoea in the UK's heterosexual population and often doesn't have any symptoms at all.

If left untreated, it can increase the chances of contracting HIV, and can also cause complications in pregnant women, too.

The STI is actually more common than gonorrhoea. Credit: Shutterstock
The STI is actually more common than gonorrhoea. Credit: Shutterstock
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So what is it?

TV is caused by the parasite, trichomonas vaginalis. It is sexually transmitted, and symptoms usually occur within a month of infection.

However, as many as half of those who become infected do not have symptoms at all, and may be passing the STI on without realising.

If you do have symptoms, they're often similar to other STI symptoms, which for women includes:

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  • abnormal vaginal discharge 
  • producing more discharge than normal, which may also have an unpleasant smell
  • soreness, swelling and itching around the vagina. The NHS note that sometimes the inner thighs can also become itchy
  • pain or discomfort when urinating or having sex

The NHS explain that in men, TV can cause:

  • pain when peeing or during ejaculation
  • needing to pee more frequently than usual
  • thin, white discharge from the penis
  • soreness, swelling and redness around the head of the penis or foreskin
Symptoms can vary, and some don't have any at all. Credit: Shutterstock
Symptoms can vary, and some don't have any at all. Credit: Shutterstock
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A new study this week revealed that TV is more common among ethnically diverse communities.

The research by Preventx, which surveyed 8,676 women, found that in women who were showing symptoms of TV, 5.2 percent testing positive were from black, black British, Caribbean, or African backgrounds, while 3.4 percent were from white backgrounds.

Meanwhile, researchers also compared TV infection with levels of deprivation, finding that in the most-deprived communities, levels were higher compared to the least-deprived areas.

It's usually treated with antibiotics. Credit: Shutterstock
It's usually treated with antibiotics. Credit: Shutterstock
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Dr Vanessa Apea, medical director of PreventX, said: "One of the difficult things at the moment is that the best quality TV testing is not carried out within the UK normally, it only happens in certain situations.

"It's really important that we diagnose and treat any infections.

"We need to make sure there is more access to TV testing in sexual health services both in-person and online. This infection can really impact men's and women's lives."

Meanwhile, Dr John White, also medical director at Preventx added: "Trichomoniasis is a relatively unknown STI among the general population, but it can cause significant pain and discomfort. I know from the patients in my care that it can also cause a lot of emotional distress for the person infected too.

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"Women, in particular, can remain infected for years - and their distressing symptoms are often misdiagnosed or dismissed. If untreated, TV can also increase the chance of acquiring HIV in at-risk communities, as well as cause complications in pregnancy."

You can find more information here.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock

Topics: Health

Lucy Devine
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