Most sexually transmitted infections and diseases (STIs and STDs) tend to carry a high gross factor on their own, but some can literally make your skin crawl. There are a few STDs that are caused by parasites or parasitic bacteria: Trichomoniasis, scabies, and pubic lice (crabs).
What is Trichomonas vaginalis?
Trichomoniasis is a common sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the parasite Trichomonas vaginalis. It can affect both men and women and often goes undiagnosed because it doesn’t always cause symptoms.
Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by a parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. It’s also known as trich or TV.
Trichomoniasis is the most common curable STD in the US. About 3 million people get trichomoniasis each year, and it affects more women than men.
Most people with trich don’t have any symptoms, but some might experience vaginal itching or burning, abnormal discharge from the vagina or penis, pain during urination, painful sexual intercourse (dyspareunia), abdominal pain, and rectal itching or irritation when wiping yourself after going to the bathroom (hemorrhoids). In women who are pregnant, symptoms can be very mild or nonexistent – which means they won’t know they have an STD unless they’re tested for one specifically.
How is trichomoniasis transmitted?
- Trichomoniasis is transmitted through contact with infected secretions. In other words, if you come into contact with the seminal or vaginal fluids of an infected person, you can become infected.
- Infected secretions include semen (or ejaculate) from a man who has trichomoniasis, as well as vaginal fluids from a woman who has trichomoniasis. It also includes urine from either gender that has been contaminated by the parasite.
- You cannot become infected through kissing or oral sex (cunnilingus). Similarly, you cannot get trichomoniasis from the air around you; i.e., it does not live in the air like cold germs do so shaking hands won’t transmit it to others and neither will using public toilets or sharing towels or bedding unless they are covered in feces/urine first
How common is trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis is the most common non-viral STI in the United States, with about 7.4 million new infections occurring each year. The CDC estimates that about 644,000 Americans are newly infected every year by trichomoniasis.
Trichomoniasis affects men and women; however, it tends to occur more often in African Americans than other ethnic groups.
While some people experience no symptoms at all when they have been infected with the disease, others may experience mild symptoms such as soreness or itching around the genital area and urination problems (e.g., feeling like you have to urinate frequently).
Where can I get tested for trichomoniasis?
You can get tested for trichomoniasis by STD Check. If you test positive, our medical staff will be able to treat you with medication. Our labs are private and no one will know you ever made an appointment.
Can trichomoniasis be treated?
Yes, trichomoniasis can be treated with antibiotics. Some people need to be treated more than once to get rid of the infection completely. If you have trichomoniasis, you may have symptoms that come back after treatment or feel better for a while then get worse again (relapse). Re-infection happens when you have sex before the infection is completely cleared up or have sex with someone who has trich. You can get re-infected from someone else even after you have completed treatment and are no longer infected.
If you are pregnant and contract trichomoniasis, it’s important for your health and that of your baby that you get treatment as soon as possible (and before giving birth).
What are scabies?
Scabies are teensy tiny skin mites known as Sarcoptes scabiei that are most commonly transmitted sexually, but they can be spread by any skin-to-skin contact. They cause intense itching as a result of their bites and burrowing into the skin with their eight legs.
Their bites cause a red rash of small red spots and bumps that can form little blisters. Scabies can be treated with a single round of antibiotics, but can linger on towels, bedding or clothing, so be sure to adequately clean them. Good luck seeing them though, scabies are so small that they can only be seen with a microscope or magnifying glass.
What is pubic lice?
Pubic lice, also called “crabs,” is a form of lice that affects the genitals and pubic region. These tiny insects are Pthirus pubis lice that feed off blood. Pubic lice are a different form of lice than head or body lice. They are commonly contracted from an infected partner during sex, but can also be spread from sharing infected bedding, towels, or clothing.
Symptoms of crabs include the skin in the affected area turning a gray-blue color, itching, and genital sores in the area from the lice biting and/or scratching. Often nits (small white or grayish oval-shaped eggs) can be seen on pubic hair shafts. Pubic lice can be treated using a prescription wash. Just like trich and scabies, it is important to get your partner checked as well and to rid them from all bedding, clothing and fabrics to prevent re-infestation.
Don’t get bitten by the same std bug as someone else. If you think that you have an STI, it is important to get tested and treated to stop the spread of parasitic STDs.
Medically Reviewed by Julie Hutchinson, MD on June 25, 2022
Author: Nick Corlis
Nick Corlis is a writer, marketer, and designer. He graduated from Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, with a degree in Digital Communications. Nick is proud to be able to help eliminate the stigma of STD testing through his writing and is always trying to advocate the importance of your sexual health. Before STDcheck, his favorite way to develop his writing skills was by accepting various writing jobs in college and maintaining multiple blogs. Nick wears many hats here at STDcheck, but specifically enjoys writing accurate, well-researched content that is not only informative and relatable but sometimes also contains memes. When not writing, Nick likes to race cars and go-karts, eat Japanese food, and play games on his computer.