Research-backed

Trichomoniasis During Pregnancy: Symptoms, Treatment And Prevention

Image: Shutterstock

IN THIS ARTICLE

Trichomoniasis, commonly called “Trich,” is a sexually transmitted disease caused by a protozoan parasite, Trichomonas vaginalis. The infection occurs when the parasite invades the lower female genital tract, including the urethra, vagina, and cervix. The prevalence of trichomoniasis in pregnancy varies based on age and geographical regions. However, a few studies estimate that trichomoniasis affects 3-3.7% of pregnant women in the US annually (1).

Read on to explore the signs, risk factors, diagnosis, and treatment for trichomoniasis in pregnancy.

Signs Of Trichomoniasis During Pregnancy

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 70% of infected individuals remain asymptomatic. When present, the symptoms vary from mild to severe and are mostly non-persistent (2). The symptoms of trichomoniasis in pregnancy are similar to those that occur in a non-pregnant state and include the following (3) (4).

  • Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
  • Frothy, white, yellowish, or greenish vaginal discharge with odor
  • Itching and irritation in the genital region (vulvar region)
  • Soreness or swelling in the vaginal region
  • Frequent, painful, or difficult urination
  • Rashes in the skin around the genital area
  • Pain during a sexual intercourse

The symptoms may develop within a month of infection or be completely absent. If you feel any of these signs of infection in pregnancy, it is wise to visit your healthcare provider for further evaluations.

Risk Factors For Trichomoniasis In Pregnancy

Research suggests that the infection is more prevalent in the first trimester. The following factors may increase the risk of trichomoniasis in pregnant women (1) (3).

  • Prior history of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
  • Multiple sex partners
  • Lack of knowledge of partner’s history of STDs
  • Unprotected intercourse
  • Poor prenatal care

Diagnosis Of Trichomoniasis In Pregnancy

Diagnostic steps are usually conducted only if the pregnant woman has symptoms of the infection. Below are the common methods used for screening for trichomoniasis (4) (5).

  • Microscopy: A vaginal swab is examined under a microscope to check the presence of the mobile flagella of the trichomonas parasite. This method is commonly used due to its low cost but is only 40-60% sensitive.
  • Culture study: This method involves microscopic investigations of the vaginal swab culture. This method is recommended to study asymptomatic pregnant women.
  • Nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT): This is the most sensitive molecular testing method to detect trichomonas in a vaginal and urine sample.

Complications Of Trichomoniasis In Pregnancy

Trichomonas may cause significant risks to pregnant women when left untreated. Research suggests that a pregnant woman with trichomonas infection is more likely to contract other sexually transmitted infections and HIV (4). In addition, pregnant women with infection have a higher risk of preterm birth, a baby with low birth weight, premature membrane rupture, and a chance of transmitting the infection to her baby during birth (6).

Treatment For Trichomoniasis In Pregnancy

Trichomoniasis is treated with the antibiotic metronidazole, which is administered as a single-dose oral pill. The treatment may be considered only in symptomatic women, although this could vary based on your OB-GYN’s recommendation (6).

Research indicates that metronidazole has a cure rate of 90% among pregnant women (1). The drug was usually contraindicated during the first trimester. However, experts indicate that more research is needed to prove the drug’s adverse effects during pregnancy (7) (8). The benefits of metronidazole may outweigh the risks of trichomoniasis in pregnancy. Talk to your doctor to understand the risks and benefits of metronidazole in detail.

It is essential to have your partner treated with metronidazole even if they do not show any symptoms. This is vital to avoid re-infection since not all with trichomoniasis may show symptoms. Avoid intercourse until you and your partner have completed the antibiotic course.

Note: The antibiotic tinidazole is also used for trichomoniasis treatment but is contraindicated in the first trimester and may not be preferred for pregnant women. It is also not recommended for use during the lactation phase (9).

Prevention Of Trichomoniasis In Pregnancy

The following preventive measures may help you avoid trichomoniasis in pregnancy (8).

  • Have protected sex by using condoms to avoid sexual transmission of any infection.
  • Avoid having multiple sex partners to reduce the risk of STDs.
  • Avoid douching, as it may remove some of the useful, protective bacteria from your vagina.
  • Maintain good overall hygiene by washing your hands frequently, especially after using the bathroom.
  • Have yourself and your partner screened for STDs, including trichomoniasis. It can help in the early detection of the disease and prevent adverse effects during pregnancy. Timely treatment can also prevent the transmission of the infection to the baby during delivery.

Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection that can also affect women in pregnancy. Not all women may show symptoms. Women who show symptoms must consult a doctor promptly for treatment, which can prevent complications. You must have your partner tested as well and avoid intercourse until you and your partner complete the antibiotic course to avoid re-infection.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Trichomoniasis.
    https://www.health.gov.au/resources/pregnancy-care-guidelines/part-g-targeted-maternal-health-tests/trichomoniasis
  2. Trichomoniasis – CDC Fact Sheet.
    https://www.cdc.gov/std/trichomonas/stdfact-trichomoniasis.htm
  3. Oyetunde T Oyeyemi, et al.,(2016); Trichomonas vaginalis infection in Nigerian pregnant women and risk factors associated with sexually transmitted infections.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26438604/
  4. Jessica A. Schumann, et al., Trichomoniasis.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK534826/
  5. Beatriz E. Perazzi, et al.,(2010); Prevalence and Comparison of Diagnostic Methods for Trichomonas vaginalis Infection in Pregnant Women in Argentina.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2843848/
  6. Trichomoniasis During Pregnancy.
    https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/pregnancy-complications/trichomoniasis-during-pregnancy/
  7. Saurina, et al.,(1997); Trichomoniasis in Pregnancy.
    https://journals.lww.com/stdjournal/Fulltext/1997/07000/Trichomoniasis_in_Pregnancy.9.aspx
  8. Trichomoniasis.
    https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/trichomoniasis
  9. Tinidazole.
    https://www.mottchildren.org/health-library/d04935n1
The following two tabs change content below.

Vidya Tadapatri

Vidya did her post-graduation in Biotechnology from Osmania University, Hyderabad. Her interest in scientific research and writing made her pursue a career in writing, in which she now has over four years of experience. She has done certified biotechnology-related training programs under renowned organizations such as Centre For Cellular & Molecular Biology and Department of Biotechnology. Vidya writes health-based articles... more