Can you naturally get rid of trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis is a common sexually transmitted infection caused by a parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. It affects both women and men, but symptoms are more commonly seen in women. There are several natural remedies claimed to treat trichomoniasis, but more research is needed to confirm their effectiveness.

What is trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis is an infection caused by the protozoan parasite Trichomonas vaginalis. It is spread through sexual contact and is one of the most common curable STIs worldwide.

In women, symptoms of trichomoniasis may include:

  • Green, yellow, or gray vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal itching or irritation
  • Pain during sex or urination
  • Redness and swelling of the vulva

Symptoms usually appear within 5-28 days of exposure. However, many infected individuals have no symptoms.

In men, trichomoniasis infection is typically asymptomatic. When symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • Discharge from the penis
  • Burning after urination or ejaculation
  • Irritation inside the penis

Without treatment, the infection can persist for months or even years. Although not as serious as other STIs, complications can occur. Women may experience recurrent infections, infertility, premature birth, and increased susceptibility to HIV.

Medical treatments

The CDC recommends one of two drugs for treating trichomoniasis:

  • Metronidazole – This antibiotic is taken orally in pill form. The usual dosage is 2 grams as a single dose. Sexual partners should also be treated to prevent spreading or reinfection.
  • Tinidazole – This is another oral antibiotic that can be substituted if metronidazole is not tolerated. It is taken as a single 2 gram dose.

These medications have a cure rate of approximately 95%. It is important to avoid alcohol consumption during treatment and for at least one day afterwards due to potential side effects.

Pregnant women and people with liver disease may require lower doses. Treatment is not recommended during the first trimester of pregnancy due to potential risks to the fetus.

If symptoms persist after completing treatment, a repeat course of antibiotics or higher dosage may be prescribed. If that fails, further testing would be warranted to assess for antibiotic resistance or other infections. Your partner should also be treated to prevent ping-ponging the infection back and forth.

Natural remedies

There are several natural remedies purported to treat vaginal infections like trichomoniasis. However, most of these lack strong clinical evidence and have not been extensively studied. Natural options should not replace doctor-prescribed antibiotics which have a proven record of effectiveness.

Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil has antimicrobial properties and has been used traditionally to treat skin and vaginal infections. Some lab studies show it can inhibit the growth of T. vaginalis parasites. However, there are no human trials confirming whether it can cure trichomoniasis.

If used, tea tree oil should always be diluted with a carrier oil before applying to the skin or mucous membranes. Use approximately 2-3 drops of tea tree oil per teaspoon of carrier oil. Never use undiluted oil in the vagina. Potential side effects include irritation, rash, and burning.

Garlic

Garlic has natural antibiotic, antiviral, and antifungal effects. Test tube studies indicate garlic extract may inhibit T. vaginalis growth. However, it’s unknown if eating garlic or inserting garlic into the vagina would produce enough of the active compounds to successfully treat trichomoniasis.

Eating fresh garlic in food is likely safe during pregnancy. But garlic supplements or vaginal use should be avoided as the risks are unknown.

Probiotics

Taking probiotic supplements or eating probiotic-rich foods may help treat trichomoniasis and related vaginal infections like bacterial vaginosis. Probiotics help restore a healthy bacterial balance in the vagina which provides some protection against parasites and pathogens.

Specific strains like Lactobacillus acidophilus have been shown in small studies to inhibit growth of T. vaginalis. However, probiotics alone would likely not be enough to cure an established infection. More studies in humans are needed on probiotic therapies.

Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is naturally antibacterial and antifungal. However, there is no evidence that ACV can kill trichomoniasis specifically or treat vaginal infections when applied topically or taken orally.

Diluted ACV may help temporarily relieve certain vaginal symptoms like itching or burning. But it should never be inserted into the vagina undiluted due to risks of chemical burns.

Home remedies to consider

In addition to herbal remedies, certain home remedies may help provide symptom relief and support healing of trichomoniasis. However, they should not replace antibiotics prescribed by your doctor.

Proper hygiene

Practicing good genital hygiene can help prevent recurrent infections or spreading to partners. Wash the external vaginal area with mild soap and water daily. Avoid strong soaps, vaginal douches, and cleansing inside the vagina which can irritate the mucosa.

Always wipe from front to back after using the toilet. Change out of wet bathing suits or exercise clothes promptly. Wear cotton underwear and avoid tight pants.

Cold compresses

A cold compress held against the external vaginal area may help provide relief from swelling, irritation, and discomfort associated with trichomoniasis. Wrap some ice or a cold pack in a clean towel and apply for 10-15 minutes as needed to soothe symptoms.

Salt water baths

Taking a warm bath with Epsom or sea salt added to the water can help ease vaginal irritation and inflammation. The magnesium in Epsom salts acts as a muscle relaxant, while the salt has mild antiseptic effects to promote healing. Use 1-2 cups per bath and soak for 15-20 minutes.

Stay hydrated

Drinking plenty of fluids helps dilute urine which reduces burning and stinging while urinating. Aim for 8-10 glasses of water daily. Also avoid irritating beverages like alcohol, juice, soda, and caffeine while recovering from trich.

Take probiotic supplements

In addition to eating probiotic foods like yogurt, consider taking a daily probiotic supplement. Look for brands that contain Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium strains clinically shown to support vaginal health.

Wear loose clothing

Choose loose, breathable fabrics like cotton while symptomatic. Avoid tight pants, pantyhose, or wet swimwear that can trap heat and moisture in the genital area. This provides an environment favorable to parasite growth.

Practice safe sex

Use condoms during sex to help prevent contracting trichomoniasis or passing it between partners. Avoid sex entirely during active infections until treatment is complete.

When to see a doctor

Home remedies can typically be used safely to provide symptom relief for uncomplicated trichomoniasis. However, they should never replace medical treatment. See your doctor right away if:

  • You test positive for trichomoniasis
  • You develop symptoms of vaginitis like discharge, itching, or burning
  • Your symptoms don’t improve within one week of self-treatment
  • You have severe vaginal pain, bleeding, or foul odor
  • You are pregnant

Only your physician can diagnose trichomoniasis through lab testing and prescribe the appropriate antibiotic medication. This is crucial to curing the infection and avoiding complications.

Diagnosis of trichomoniasis

If trichomoniasis is suspected, your doctor will take a detailed history about your symptoms and sexual activity. Diagnosis is made through laboratory testing of fluid or discharge from the vagina in women, and urine or semen in men.

Wet mount microscopy is often done first, looking at the sample under the microscope for motile trichomonads. This test has about a 60-80% sensitivity because the organisms can be missed if not present in adequate numbers.

Culture is another option which has higher accuracy but takes several days for the parasites to grow. Nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT) are also very sensitive and can detect small amounts of T. vaginalis DNA from genital swabs.

A pelvic exam in women may show cervicitis, vaginal discharge, or vulvar inflammation. However testing is needed to distinguish trichomoniasis from other STIs with similar symptoms.

Complications of trichomoniasis

Without treatment, trichomoniasis can persist for years and potentially lead to major complications.

In women, risks include:

  • Chronic or recurrent infections
  • Infertility and higher risk of tubal pregnancy
  • Higher risk of contracting other STIs including HIV
  • Premature rupture of membranes and preterm delivery if infected during pregnancy
  • Low birth weight babies

In men, untreated trich can increase risk of:

  • Prostatitis
  • Epididymitis
  • Urethritis
  • Infertility

Rarely, the parasites may spread to other organs in the body and cause systemic infections. This is more likely in those with weakened immune systems from cancer, HIV, etc.

Prevention of trichomoniasis

Preventing trichomoniasis largely relies on safer sexual practices:

  • Use condoms correctly every time you have sex
  • Limit your number of sexual partners
  • Get tested for STIs regularly if sexually active
  • Avoid douching which can upset vaginal pH balance
  • Request your partner get tested and treated for trich if they have symptoms or have been exposed

Pregnant women should also get screened for trichomoniasis at their first prenatal visit to prevent complications.

Conclusion

Trichomoniasis is a common STI that requires prescription antibiotic treatment to cure. While some natural remedies like tea tree oil or probiotics show promising effects in lab studies, they have not been clinically proven to eliminate trichomoniasis in humans.

Using home treatments like cold compresses, sitz baths, and probiotic supplements may help provide symptom relief while you are taking antibiotics. But they should never be used in place of doctor-prescribed medical therapy. Without antibiotics, trichomoniasis can persist for years and cause serious reproductive complications.

See your physician right away if you suspect you have contracted trichomoniasis so appropriate testing and treatment can be started. Taking your medication as directed, notifying partners, avoiding sex until cured, and practicing safe sex are important to get rid of trichomoniasis and prevent recurrent infection.

Leave a Comment