Tricky trichomonas

Originally Published: May 29, 1998 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: October 7, 2008
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Dear Alice,

I ended a relationship about a year ago. I have always seemed to have a yeast infection when I went to doctors before. In my relationship I had went to the doctors before because of discharge and just told them I didn’t need to really be looked at because I know what it is. Well at the end of my relationship I went to the doctor to get a whole check-up. Come to find out that what I thought was a yeast infection turned out to be Trichomonas. I think I have had it for a couple of years now. I have gone to be treated for it 2 times. Each time it would go away and then come back. I was wondering if it was because I had it for such a long time?


Dear Scared In The South,

It might seem like a trichomonas infection is trying to trick you into more visits to the health care provider. Trichomonas vaginalis, or trich, is a small organism (one cell) that causes an infection called trichomoniasis. Trichomoniasis is generally considered to be a sexually transmitted infection (STI), but it can be picked up non-sexually, too: warm, moist environments, such as jacuzzis, public baths, toilet seats, and used towels, can sometimes host and possibly, though rarely, transmit the organism. It's true, the symptoms of trich can often resemble a yeast infection. Your story is helpful in that it illustrates the importance of always having a yeast infection diagnosed — you might learn that it's not a yeast infection at all.

The good news is trichomoniasis is more annoying than it is threatening to your health. Trichomonas thrive in warm, moist conditions. It's no wonder that the infection keeps coming back, since those little protozoa have found a great place to live and they're determined to stay.

As treatment for the infection, did you take pills or did you use some type of cream? If you were taking pills, did you take all of them, or did you stop when the symptoms went away? It is important to complete the entire course of treatment to be sure that you get rid of every last one of those buggers. If a few survive the treatment, they will again grow and prosper.

You can speak with your health care provider about your treatment options. If you're a student at Columbia, you can call x4-2284 or log on to Open Communicator to make an appointment. In addition to taking medication, s/he may be able to tell you certain foods to eat or to avoid that may help clear up the infection. It never hurts to load up on vitamin C to boost your immune system, as well as get enough rest and keep your stress level to a minimum. Other non-medical things you can do include wearing loose, cotton clothes (including underwear with cotton crotches) that breathe; and, if it is an option for you, not using tampons for a while to help prevent a recurrence.

Wishing you an end to the infections,


July 29, 2005


The question from "Scared" really eased my mind. I, too, have had what I thought to be frequent yeast infections. I had pap smears and was treated for "infections," but the doctor never...


The question from "Scared" really eased my mind. I, too, have had what I thought to be frequent yeast infections. I had pap smears and was treated for "infections," but the doctor never cultured anything. In the last few days, I started having a very thick smelly greenish yellow discharge and burning urination, and vaginal itching. I have been in a monogamous relationship for 5 years and married for 2. When i found out i had trich, i was ready to throttle my husband. I did some research and found out that it could be years before some were diagnosed. My husband was married previously and his wife cheated A LOT. It is most likely that she gave it to him and he gave it to me. Now we are both being treated. Hopefully there will be no more "frequent yeast infections."