If you’re old enough to have sexual intercourse, you’re old enough to know what the difference is between two different types of problems that affect the female reproductive tract : trichomoniasis and bacterial vaginosis (BV).
It’s important to understand the difference between trichomoniasis and bacterial vaginosis because one of them is caused by a parasite while the other one is simply the result of an imbalance of normal flora.
One of them is more serious than the other because it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease.
What Is Trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted disease caused by a parasite.
The disease affects both men and women although it’s the women who usually have the symptoms. If men do have symptoms, they could have a burning sensation after ejaculating or urinating. They may also have a mild discharge and feel as if there’s something irritating the inside of their penis.
When women have trichomoniasis or trich for short, they will have a discharge that is gray, yellow or green, itching around the vagina, pain during sex, pain during urination, and an odor emanating from the vagina.
Trichomoniasis, if left untreated in a pregnant woman, can cause premature babies or babies to be born with a low birth weight.
What Is Bacterial Vaginosis?
It’s not caused by a parasite. Bacterial vaginosis is the result of an imbalance of both pH in the vagina and also abnormal flora. The signs and symptoms include a gray or white discharge, itching and sometimes burning, and a strong fishy or wet sock smell, especially after sex.
Although most male sex partners do not have to be treated, bacterial vaginosis is still something that needs to be attended to. The abnormal anaerobic bacteria that are multiplying in the vagina can cause infections in the mother’s womb and affect the unborn baby, interfering with fetal growth.
Infants born to mothers with bacterial vaginosis often are low birth weight or born prematurely, just as in trichomoniasis.
However, there’s still danger even if you aren’t pregnant. Bacterial vaginosis can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, which can leave you sterile or scar your fallopian tubes and increase your chance to have an ectopic pregnancy in the future.
An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy where the egg implants itself in an unsafe area in the reproductive tract, risking your health in the process.
Both trichomoniasis and bacterial vaginosis can increase the chance that other sexually transmitted diseases are contracted during sex.
Trichomoniasis vs Bacterial Vaginosis
- Both partners must be treated with antibiotics (Flagyl) for trichomoniasis
- Trich is caused by a parasite; BV is caused because the normal flora and pH are abnormal
- Bacterial vaginosis can cause permanent scarring in the reproductive tissues and pelvic inflammatory disease. Trichomoniasis doesn’t cause these
- Bacterial vaginosis can occur without any sexual intercourse; trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted disease
- The smell associated with bacterial vaginosis is fishy. In trichomoniasis, it’s simply a bad smell.
Now that you know the difference, you can understand why people sometimes mix up the two.
Knowing the difference can keep you healthy for years to come.