STI: An ‘unusual fishy smell’ could be a warning sign of a sexually transmitted infection

STI: An ‘unusual fishy smell’ could be a warning sign of a sexually transmitted infection

Integrated Care Systems: NHS explains their importance

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Trichomoniasis is caused by an infection with a protozoan parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis (TV), the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explained. “More common” in older women, rather than young women or men, the parasite usually infects the lower genital tract. The lower genital tract in women include the vulva, vagina, cervix, and urethra.

In men, the most commonly infected body part is the urethra inside of the penis.

The parasite is spread from a penis to a vagina, or vice versa, or from a vagina to a vagina.

The CDC added: “It is not common for the parasite to infect other body parts, like the hands, mouth, or anus.”

Symptoms of an infection may come and go, such as itching or irritation of the genitals.

There may be a burning sensation after urination (or ejaculation, for men).

The penis might leak discharge, and a woman’s vaginal discharge – either thinned or increased in volume – can be a range of colours, from white, yellowish to greenish with an unusual fishy smell.

“Having trichomoniasis can make it feel unpleasant to have sex,” the CDC noted.

“Without treatment, the infection can last for months or even years.”

Discussing symptoms with a healthcare practitioner at a sexual health clinic is not enough for a diagnosis.

A laboratory test is required in order to diagnose and treat trichomoniasis.

Antibiotics are usually needed to clear the infection, with both partners recommended treatment.

“Wait to have sex again until everyone has been treated and any symptoms go away (usually about a week),” the CDC instructed.

“Get checked at three months to make sure you have not been infected again, or sooner if your symptoms come back before then.”

The NHS cautioned that up to half of all people infected “will not develop any symptoms”.

Even if a person is symptomless, if they have the infection, they can still pass it on to a sexual partner.

The NHS stated: “You do not have to have many sexual partners to catch trichomoniasis. Anyone who’s sexually active can catch it and pass it on.”

Trichomoniasis can not passed on through oral or anal sex; nor can it passed on through:

  • Kissing or hugging
  • Sharing cups, plates or cutlery
  • Toilet seats.

The best way to prevent trichomoniasis is to practise safe sex by using a condom.

It also good practice to not share sex toys, and if you do, “wash them or cover them with a new condom before anyone else uses them”.

The NHS added: “If you’re sexually active, go for regular sexual health check-ups.”

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