Trichomoniasis and Your Pregnancy

One of the most common curable sexually transmitted diseases; trichomoniasis can cause problems in your pregnancy if it is left untreated. While the symptoms of trichomoniasis may have you thinking that you have a yeast infection, it is important to get a proper diagnosis in order to effectively treat your trichomoniasis.

What is Trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted disease that can affect both women and men. Often referred to as "trich," this infection is caused by the bacteria Trichomonas vaginalis, and infects the vagina, cervix, and penis. It can also affect urinary tract function. The infection can be difficult to diagnose because up to 60% of men and 40% of women exhibit no symptoms of trichomoniasis. Symptoms of trichomoniasis can also disappear spontaneously and without treatment. Common symptoms associated with trich include a yellow-green vaginal discharge in women and a thin, white discharge in men. There is an easy and effective cure for trichomoniasis with a success rate of 90% to 95%.

Trichomoniasis and Pregnancy
More than 8,000 pregnant women are infected with trichomoniasis every year in the United States. If you are pregnant it is important that you ask to be tested, especially if you are experiencing symptoms of trichomoniasis. Trich tests are not normally provided to expectant mothers but trichomoniasis can affect your baby. In particular, this infection is associated with pre-term and premature birth as well as low-birth weight in newborns (under 5 pounds). Trich can also cause Preterm Premature Rupture of the Membranes (PPROM), causing your uterus lining to break away before it is time for your baby to be born. Some research suggests that pregnant women infected with trich are two times more likely to have stillborn infants or to have their children die in infancy. In rare instances, trichomoniasis can be passed to your newborn during birth. If your baby contracts trich from you during birth, he can be treated with antibiotics.

Testing and Treatment
If you think you may have trich, it is important for you and your sexual partners to get tested. You will be given a physical exam during which your doctor will look for signs of infection around the vagina and cervix. A pelvic exam will determine if any cysts or sores are growing around the cervix. A vaginal swab will also be taken and tested for the presence of the bacteria causing trich.

If you test positive for trich you will probably only be treated if your symptoms are bothersome and persistent. The drug metronidazole is an effective cure for Trichomoniasis. However, some studies show that metronidazole actually increases the risk of pre-term or premature birth for your baby. A study performed by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development found that metronidazole use in pregnancy can significantly increase the chance of pre-term labor. To date, studies are inconclusive on the actual risks of using metronidazole during pregnancy. If your symptoms are bad, you may be offered clotrimazole vaginal tablets as an alternative treatment. These are inserted inside your vagina once daily for 7 days.

Think you might have trich? Visit our Pregnancy Complications forum to discuss your concerns with other women.


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