Seunga (Jasmine) Han, PharmD Student
In our previous article, we discussed the symptoms, treatment options and prevention of a yeast infection. But, we also mentioned that an abnormal vaginal discharge may be caused by other reasons. In today’s article, we’re going to talk about one of two possible causes of abnormal vaginal discharge that may present itself like a yeast infection – trichomoniasis. In the near future article, we’ll cover a topic on bacterial vaginosis, the other other possible cause.
What is trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by a protozoan called Trichomonas vaginalis. It can cause vulvovaginitis (inflammation/irritation of vagina and vulva) in women or urethritis (inflammation/irritation of urethra) in men.
What are the symptoms?
Trichomoniasis and vaginal yeast infection share some features that are similar. They both involve itchiness or soreness in the vagina and vaginal discharge. Unlike a vaginal yeast infection, trichomoniasis may involve:
- Vaginal discharge that is off-white or yellow, frothy
- Rancid odor
- Bleeding after sexual intercourse not related to menstruation
How do you treat it?
If you’re experiencing symptoms mentioned above and are suspecting trichomoniasis, you must go seek help from a physician. In Canada, the first line treatment option requires a prescription medication called metronidazole which is a type of antibiotic. With metronidazole, it’s important to avoid alcohol consumption during and for 24 hours after completion of the treatment. Some other side effects of metronidazole include upset stomach and dark urine colour.
Metronidazole may be used in any stages of pregnancy upon considering the risks and benefits. This is because vaginal trichomoniasis may be associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes such as premature rupture of membranes, preterm delivery, and low birth weight. It can also be used in breastfeeding, but some recommend withholding breastfeeding for 12-24 hours after a dose.
It’s highly recommended that sexual partners are treated for improved effectiveness. Abstinence until completion of treatment and symptom resolution is also recommended to ensure infection is appropriately treated.
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- DynaMed Plus
- Public Health Agency of Canada. (2013, February 01). Section 4-8: Canadian Guidelines on Sexually Transmitted Infections – Management and treatment of specific syndromes – Vaginal discharge. Retrieved October 29, 2018, from https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/infectious-diseases/sexual-health-sexually-transmitted-infections/canadian-guidelines/sexually-transmitted-infections/canadian-guidelines-sexually-transmitted-infections-26.html