Trichomonas vaginalis is a flagellated protozoan, which means it contains only of one cell, which has cytoplasma and nucleus, seperated from the outside world by a cell membrane.
The parasite has 4 flagella on the front end of the cell and one going vertically to the body. It differentiates the so called undulating membrane. The nucleus is situated in the front of the cell. On the opposite side of the undulating membrane, in the front end of the cell, there is a cytostome. A conspicuous barb-like axostyle projects opposite the four flagella, coming out from the back end of the cell. Its lenght is 7 to 30 micrometers. It has no cyst form but it is possible to live up to 24 hours in urine, semen or even water.
It does not have mitochondria and therefore the necessary enzymes and cytochromes in order to conduct oxidative phosphorylation. Therefore the needed proteins are transmitted throughout the cell membrane. Some of the needed substances are gothered by phagocytosis. The needed energy is acquired by anaerobic breaking of glucose to glycerol and succinate in the process of glycolisis.
This parasite is found in the vagina of women and urethra of both men and women. It is one of the most common parasites on earth. The acidity in the vagina ( pH 5,9 to 6,5) makes it extremely enviramental-friendly for the parasite.
The way this parasite is transmitting is by sexual interaction. With men there is usually no signs of an infection. However, women experience in most cases symptoms such as a fluid, different in colour – from yellowish to greenish, called vaginal fluid. This is due to the infection of the vaginal wall, called colpitis, caused by the parasite.
T. vaginalis is also known to cause different complications such as low birth weight, preterm delivery, predisposing to HIV infection, cervical cancer. It is also found in the urinary tract, fallopian tubes and pelvis, as it can cause pneumonia, bronchitis and oral lesions.
Treatment is considered to be extremely hard but not impossible. Usually antibiotics are prescribed – metronidazole or tinidazole. Since it is really easy to be infected, again in most cases there is treatment provided for both sexual partners. Even though men experience most of the times no symptoms they are still transmitting the parasite to their sexual partners. Symptoms with men could be those of urethritis(purulent or clear discharge).
Using condoms in order to prevent transmitting this parasite reduces the chances of doing so, but NOT completely.