Everything you need to know about trichomoniasis in men
Table of Contents
- Written by Dr. Andrea Pinto MD - Written on September 28, 2021
Trichomoniasis is an STD caused by a parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. And despite the fact that trichomoniasis infections are more common in women, men can still get this STD. However, the symptoms of trichomoniasis in men are different from the symptoms in women. Learning how to spot these symptoms can help you get a diagnosis if you ever have trichomoniasis, so you can get treated as promptly as possible.
Keep reading to learn more about trichomoniasis in men at STDWatch.com.
Trichomoniasis in men
Trichomoniasis is an STD that can affect men and women; however, it can lead to different manifestations depending on your sex. Regardless of whether you’re a man or woman, trichomoniasis is always caused by the same pathogen: Trichomonas vaginalis.
In men, Trichomonas vaginalis typically infects the urethra (the small tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body) and the prostate (a small gland located between the bladder and the penis which helps produce sperm).
Trichomoniasis can be spread through vaginal, anal, or oral sex; it can also be contracted after sharing sex toys or unprotected intimate (genital-to-genital) contact, even without penetration. It’s important to mention that the prevalence of rectal trichomoniasis in men who have sex with men is low, so while this isn’t one of the main mechanisms of spread for this STD, it should still be taken into consideration.
How common is trichomoniasis in men?
Since a large majority of cases of trichomoniasis in men are asymptomatic, it’s very difficult to know the exact incidence of the disease in men. But we do know that, according to the CDC, trichomoniasis is the most common type of curable STD; it has been estimated that there were more than 2 million new cases of trichomoniasis in 2018 in the United States alone.
Likewise, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), estimates that there could be nearly 150 million new cases of trichomoniasis every year around the world.
According to Medscape, however, men tend to have asymptomatic trichomoniasis more often than women. This can make it more likely for men to unknowingly pass the infection to new partners, or to reinfect their partner if they don’t receive treatment.
Symptoms of trichomoniasis in men
Although trichomoniasis tends to be asymptomatic in men, some can develop symptoms of the disease. According to the NHS, symptoms of trichomoniasis in men can include:
- Pain during urination or ejaculation
- Increased urinary frequency and urgency
- Thin, milky white penile discharge
- Soreness, swelling, and pain on the foreskin or around the head of the penis
- Testicular pain (less common)
- Lower abdominal pain (less common)
According to MedlinePlus, men who have trichomoniasis can also develop complications such as prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate gland) and epididymitis (swelling of the epididymis, which is a small tube that is part of the male ejaculatory system). If left untreated, these complications can lead to infertility due to lower sperm motility and viability — even in asymptomatic men. Having untreated trichomoniasis can also increase your risk of contracting HIV if you’re exposed to it.
Treatment of trichomoniasis in men
Although the majority of cases of trichomoniasis in women are treated with a single dose of metronidazole, trichomoniasis in men can be a bit more difficult to eliminate. According to a study published by the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases, a single dose of metronidazole was only effective in successfully treating 57.1 percent of cases of trichomoniasis in men.
But don’t worry — the same study found that a treatment of 400 mg of metronidazole, taken 3 times a day for 5 days cured male trichomoniasis in 100 percent of cases.
However, it’s important to avoid self-medication, since taking the wrong dosages or treatment could lead to complications or resistant infections. It’s also important to keep in mind that the symptoms of STDs in men can be very similar across different diseases, so you shouldn’t try to guess which STD is causing your symptoms. Instead, it’s recommended that you get tested for STDs regularly, which brings us to our next point…
How to detect trichomoniasis in men
Trichomoniasis can be diagnosed using different techniques, including:
- Saline microscopy
- Microbial culture
- Nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs)
In most cases, your doctor will perform a physical exam and take a swab from your urethra (for males) or vagina (for women). This sample will then be analyzed to determine the presence of Trichomonas vaginalis. Trichomonas can also be diagnosed using a urine sample.
There are also providers that offer at-home trichomoniasis testing, where you can collect a sample yourself and mail it back to the lab.
The good news is that most cases of trichomoniasis can be completely eliminated after following a simple antibiotic treatment. The most important thing you can do to prevent the spread of trichomoniasis — in addition to practicing safe sex — is to make sure you get tested regularly.
Screening for STDs makes it easier to catch any STDs early, even if they’re asymptomatic, so you can get the treatment you need and inform your partner(s) if necessary. By taking a simple home STD test, you can start the process to maintain your reproductive health and prevent future health complications without even having to leave home.
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