Trichomoniasis (trich) is considered to be the most curable sexually transmitted disease in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among the estimated 3.7 million people in the US with the infection, the majority of them are women. So can men get trich? Absolutely, and if they do, they rarely experience symptoms, which means they may not discover they have the disease unless their sexual partner tells them it has been transmitted, or they are diagnosed by chance during a physical examination for another health condition.
How can men get trich?
Trich is caused by a parasite called a trichomonas, and the organism is transmitted primarily by having unprotected sexual contact with an individual who has the disease. Men can contract trich if they have vaginal sexual relations with a female who has the disease. It also can be transmitted by men to uninfected women via semen (cum) or pre-cum and between an infected individual and partner if they share sex toys or touch their own or their partner’s genitals and transfer infected fluids.
Trich typically infects the vagina, vulva, penis, and urethra, but not the mouth or anus. The infection also cannot be spread through casual contact or from kissing, coughing, sneezing, or sharing food or drinks.
What are the symptoms of trich in men?
When men with trich do experience symptoms, they typically include burning after urinating or ejaculating, itching or irritation in the urethra, and a discharge from the penis. Symptoms usually appear between 5 and 28 days after a man has been infected.
One possible consequence of having trich is that some men find that having sex is extremely uncomfortable and they avoid sexual relations completely until they have been treated successfully. The risk of contracting and/or transmitting other sexually transmitted diseases also increases among men who have trich.
How is trich in men diagnosed and treated?
A urine test that involves analyzing the first urine flow of the day is the preferred way to diagnose trichomoniasis in men. An alternative and less accurate process is the rapid antigen and nucleic acid probe blood tests. Researchers recently reported that the GeneXpert TV test, which uses urine samples from men, was highly sensitive (97.2%) and excellent for testing for the disease in males.
Treatment of trich in men generally involves prescribing a single dose of the antibiotics metronidazole or tinidazole, which should be taken by both sexual partners. Successful treatment for one infection does not guarantee a man cannot be reinfected. Therefore, use of condoms is recommended unless men are in a disease-free monogamous relationship.
What about trich and the prostate?
The authors of a new study published in the Korean Journal of Parasitology state that “Our findings suggest for the first time that T. vaginalis may induce inflammation via adhesion to normal prostate epithelial cells.” That suggests the infection may result in a chronic prostatic infection, such as chronic prostatitis. This findings warrants further research.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Trichomoniasis: CDC Fact Sheet
Gaydos CA et al. Rapid and point-of-care tests for the diagnosis of Trichomonas vaginalis in women and men. Sexually Transmitted Infections 2017 Jul 6
Kim JH et al. Interaction between Trichomonas vaginalis and the prostate epithelium. Korean Journal of Parasitology 2017 Apr; 55(2): 213-18