What is trichomoniasis and what are the symptoms?

If you’ve been anywhere on the internet recently, it’s likely you’ve seen the video for Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s WAP.

The video for the song – an acronym for ‘wet ass pussy’ – features incredible outfits, skillful twerking, and (as you can imagine) many allusions to water and wetness.

And the song is full of hyperbolic terms about just how wet and wild things can get, which has – oddly – caused ructions for some people.

Commentator Ben Shapiro has suggested that it’s actually a worrying sign to be lubricated.

In a tweet yesterday evening he wrote: ‘My only real concern is that the women involved — who apparently require a “bucket and a mop” — get the medical care they require. My doctor wife’s differential diagnosis: bacterial vaginosis, yeast infection, or trichomonis [sic].’

We’re going to be looking into these conditions, and seeing whether Ben’s ‘doctor wife’ is correct in her assertion that having a lubricated vagina might be a symptom of something more sinister.

We’ve explored bacterial vaginosis and now it’s time for a guide to trichomoniasis.

What is trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by a tiny parasite.

This parasite, Trichomonas vaginalis (TV), can be present in those with penises or vaginas, and is passed from person to person in much the same way as any other STI, either from unprotected sex or by sharing sex toys.

However, as TV attaches to the urethra of the host, it is not thought to be contractable through oral or anal sex.

Symptoms of trichomoniasis

The symptoms of trichomoniasis are very similar to a number of other conditions (making it hard to diagnose) and differ depending on whether you have a penis or vagina.

According to the NHS, the symptoms for those with a vagina include:

  • abnormal vaginal discharge that may be thick, thin or frothy and yellow-green in colour
  • producing more discharge than normal, which may also have an unpleasant fishy smell
  • soreness, swelling and itching around the vagina – sometimes the inner thighs also become itchy
  • pain or discomfort when passing urine or having sex

For those with a penis, they include:

  • pain when peeing or during ejaculation
  • needing to pee more frequently than usual
  • thin, white discharge from the penis
  • soreness, swelling and redness around the head of the penis or foreskin

Let’s look more closely at ‘producing more discharge than normal’ to see whether Ben Shapiro’s assertion might be true.

The answer lies in what’s ‘normal’ for you, as well as how painfully literally you take the WAP lyrics.

The lyric that specifically deals with the amount of wetness is ‘Bring a bucket and a mop for this wet-ass pussy.’

If you can’t see the artistic license, then what a sad little life Jane. But, even taken literally, that would not signal trichomoniasis.

Maura Quinlan, M.D., M.P.H., an assistant professor in the department of obstetrics and gynaecology at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, told SELF: ‘I tell my patients that discharge is like sweat—some people don’t sweat very much, and some sweat a lot.’

What matters most is whether you’re producing more discharge than normal. So keep an eye on how your body normally functions, and if that changes, see your GP or head to a GUM clinic for a check-up.

Depending on your birth control or cycle, you might notice that some days your discharge is thicker or thinner, or there’s more of it.

When it comes to trichomoniasis, this increased level of discharge is also normally accompanied by a change in the colour or smell. Keep an eye for grey, green, white, or yellow discharge that may smell fishy.

On top of all that information, it’s important to remember that the song is talking about becoming wet in a sexual sense, which is different to your standard discharge production.

Ask Alice – a veritable hub or every piece of sex information you’d ever need – states: ‘In terms of sexual stimulation, early on in sexual excitement, veins in a woman’s genital tissues begin to dilate and fill with blood, gradually making the whole area feel full (called vasocongestion).

‘In the vagina, this swelling creates a “sweating reaction,” producing a fluid that makes the vaginal lips get wet — often an early sign that a woman is sexually excited.’

Being wet is a good sign that you’re enjoying what’s happening, so please don’t feel ashamed of that.

Similarly, if you’re having trouble with lubrication it could be due to many factors (such as menopause or a side effect of medication). There’s nothing to be ashamed of here, and a bit of lube along with a check-up from your GP should help you and give you the answers as to why.

As if we didn’t need another thing to worry about when it comes to our bodies, please don’t feel that your arousal or normal human functioning is automatically an infection.

Own your WAP (or your slightly less WAP) and stay safe.

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