Trichomonas is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI). It is caused by a parasite called Trichomoniasis vaginalis. The infection is more common in women than in men and older women are more likely to have it than younger women. Trichomonas is transmitted through vaginal, anal, or oral sexual contact. Ongoing research investigates the performance of the Colli-Pee™ in the detection and screening of trichomonas.
- Symptoms of Trichomonas
- Prevention of Trichomonas
- Detection of Trichomonas
- Treatment of Trichomonas
- Consequences of Trichomonas
- Novosanis' research on Trichomonas and the Colli-Pee™
Unfortunately, Trichomoniasis often does not produce any symptoms, so it can remain undetected. About 70% of infected people do not have any signs or symptoms. Some patients do suffer from symptoms, these can range from mild irritation to severe inflammation (1).
Many men infected with Trichomonas never develop symptoms. The most recognizable symptoms of Trichomonas for men are those of an urethra infection:
- Transparent or white secretion from the penis
- Burning feeling while urinating
- Uncomfortable feeling during ejection
Women with Trichomonas infections may experience:
- Vaginal discharge
- Itching, burning, redness or soreness of the genitals
- Discomfort with urination
- Discharge with an unusual smell that can be clear, white, yellowish or greenish
Like most STIs, Trichomonas can be prevented by using a condom during sexual contact. A condom offers good protection against Trichomonas.
Next to primary prevention, screening can help to detect asymptomatic cases and prevent further spread of the infection. For example, communities with a high prevalence of STIs can be screened using swabs or first-void urine for the detection of Trichomonas infections (2).
Colli-Pee™ could significantly improve these type of screening programs. With Colli-Pee™, the collection of first-void urine is assured, making the option of a urine sample more reliable fot both female and male participants. The first-void urine collector is also easy-to-use. Home-based sampling can reduce feelings of shame connected to Trichomonas testing and urine collection in the doctors office. With Colli-Pee™, urine samples can be obtained in the home environment.
Trichomonas cannot be detected based on symptoms alone. It can be detected by the examination of a swab specimen (from the cervix for women or from the urethra for men) taken by a clinician, of self-collected vaginal swabs, or of voided urine. The urine sample for detection of Trichomonas has to consist of first-void urine (the first part of the urine stream), as this part of the urine stream contains significantly more DNA particles than other parts, making detection of Trichomonas more sensitive (3).
This urine can easily be collected at home, for example by using the Colli-Pee™. This device contains a floater system which captures the first part of the urine stream, or first-void urine. A self-collection at home with the Colli-Pee™ avoids the need for an intimate, and possibly uncomfortable, examination and makes testing much easier especially for women.
Trichomonas is treated with antibiotics (metronidazole or tinidazole). The patients partner - even if he/she is not infected with Trichomonas - should be treated simultaneously.
If left untreated, Trichomonas can have serious complications for both men and women. In women, the genital inflammation caused by Trichomonas might increase a womens risk of acquiring HIV infections if she is exposed to HIV. It can also cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) (4).
Novosanis is currently collaborating with The Institute of Tropical Medicine (Antwerp, BE), to evaluate the Colli-Pee™ for STI testing in MSM (men having sex with men). Four STIs are detected in this study, being Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Mycoplasma Genitalium, and Trichomonas. Samples are taken at home and send to the laboratory using regular mail. Next to diagnostic sensitivity and specificity, usability and willingness to use are also assessed. Further research will be dedicated to e.g. STI testing in females.