Trichomonas Recurrence

Kelly Anne Spratt, D.O., Director of Women's Cardiovascular Health at the University of Pennsylvania Presbyterian Medical Center, answers your questions.

Q. Is sexual intercourse the only way to truly become infected with trichomonas? I have an adoring husband whom I trust, yet the infection continues to recur. Is it possible to get it from water that splashes when using the commode or jeans that may have been worn when infected? My gynecologist insists that sex is the only way and that I should find out with whom my mate is having sex. Please provide me with some insight -- my husband is extremely concerned about my health and medication that I have to take.

A. Trichomonas is a disease that is almost always spread from person to person during sex. It affects 20 percent of women during their reproductive lives. As you probably know, the symptoms in women may include frothy green or yellow discharge with a foul or strong smell; itching, redness, and soreness of the vagina; burning when urinating; and/or pain during sex. It also affects men, but is very difficult to detect. Men may have no symptoms or just transient symptoms such as a morning discharge.

Jeans and splashing water are not likely to carry living bacteria, but items like vibrators that come into contact with the genitals during sex should be thoroughly disinfected. The problem may be that each of you has been incompletely treated, and you may have been giving the infection back and forth to each other.

With proper medication, trichomonas usually clears up in one week. However, it is important that both you and your husband be treated, even if he has no symptoms. Do not have sex until your symptoms are gone and both of you have completely finished your treatment.

And only then if the infection still recurs, your doctor's question may need to be asked of your husband.