Trichomonas vaginalis is a protozoan that produces an infection called Trichomoniasis. The parasite is a globular-shaped cell with four anterior flagella and a short undulating membrane. It is found only in the trophozoite form.
Trichomonas vaginalis colonizes in the endocervical and urethral glands, or in the prostate, where as it consumes bacteria, white blood cells, and, occasionally, a red blood cell. Although it lacks a cyst form, it can survive outside the human host for a couple of hours on moist surfaces and up to twenty-four hours in urine, cement, and water. From there, it can be transmitted to others via sauna benches, contaminated towels and toilet seats, as well as therapeutic mud and water baths. However, it is most frequently passed during sexual contact.
Approximately 25% of men and 40% of women can play host to the organism without displaying any symptoms. Males that do have symptoms may experience some irritation or pain on urination, and there may also be a slight discharge. It should also be considered as a possible cause of such problems in the male reproductive tract as prostatic infections or non-specific urinary complaints.
In the symptomatic female, the pH of the vagina becomes slightly alkaline, accompanied by a foul-smelling, white to green cheesy and profuse vaginal discharge, painful and frequent urination, and small vaginal lesions. This organism is also capable of producing inflammatory changes on the bladder, urethra, and mucosal surfaces of the vagina. The disease can persist for months. A prolonged infection may cause damage to the reproductive, as well as the urinary, tissues. Other conditions that can raise the vaginal pH are progesterone, which increases during the latter half of the menstrual cycle and during pregnancy, excess vaginal mucus, and an overgrowth of such bacteria as Proteus and Streptococcus.