Experts are warning women about a sneaky STI that is often overlooked but affects one in 16 in some parts of the UK.
Trichomoniasis is more common than the well-known STI gonorrhea, experts found.
But not only is it relatively unknown, it’s not always included in standard STI “screenings” at sexual health clinics or in home kits.
The NHS says to see a GP or sexual health clinic if you have symptoms of the disease, both men and women affected.
However, about half of people who have it show no signs and can spread it further.
Others may be puzzled by your symptoms, which may be vague.
New research suggests that many women are carriers of trichomoniasis without realizing it, up to one in 16 women in some areas.
And it is disproportionately affecting women from racial minorities and disadvantaged communities.
Dr. John White, Preventx Medical Director and Consultant Sexual Health and HIV Physician, said: “Trichomoniasis is a relatively unknown STI among the general population, but it can cause significant pain and discomfort.
“I know from the patients in my care that it can also cause a lot of emotional distress to the infected person.
“Women, in particular, can remain infected for years, and their distressing symptoms are often misdiagnosed or dismissed.
“If it is not treated, television [trichomoniasis] it can also increase the possibility of acquiring HIV in at-risk communities, as well as cause pregnancy complications.”
The study involved 8,676 women from across England.
Of these, 5,116 had experienced vaginal discharge, which is normal, and of these, 3.5 percent tested positive for trichomoniasis.
They were considered symptomatic because one of the signs of trichomoniasis is discharge, which can be excessive, thick, thin or foamy, greenish-yellow in color or fishy-smelling.
Rates were highest for women of black, black British, Caribbean, or African origin (5.2 percent), but lowest for white women (3.4 percent).
Nearly six percent (one in 16) of symptomatic women in the most disadvantaged communities tested positive, compared to 1.4 percent in wealthier women.
Looking at women without vaginal discharge, 0.8 per cent of white British women tested positive.
But twice as many women of black, black British, Caribbean or African origin (2 percent) and three times as many women from a deprived area (2.7 percent) tested positive.
“Our new data shows worryingly high positivity rates, with certain communities more affected than others,” said Dr. White.
Rates of trichomoniasis in the women studied were higher than rates of gonorrhea: 3.5 percent compared to 0.6 percent.
But gonorrhea is routinely tested for, while trichomoniasis is not.
Dr. White said that trichomoniasis can be “easily diagnosed” outside of a clinic and then easily treated with antibiotics.
Therefore, he said it was “vital” that more tests were carried out across the UK.
This story originally appeared on Sun and has been reproduced here with permission.