Dear Annie: I have been married for 16 years. I was recently diagnosed with trichomoniasis, a sexually transmitted infection. My doctor explained that if I have been faithful to my husband, then he must have cheated on me. When I confronted my husband, he denied it. I had symptoms, but some women can have trichomoniasis for decades and not know it.
My husband’s business has been struggling financially, and this has taken a toll on our relationship. It is not out of the realm of possibility that he might have cheated on me. But he continues to deny it, even after I told him that although I believe he did cheat, I still am committed to our marriage.
Annie, do most doctors believe their patients with this STD have cheating spouses? Is it possible I carried this infection for 21 years, since my previous marriage, and am only now showing symptoms? Can you help me make sense of this? – Confused and Hurting in Florida
Dear Confused: Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted parasitic infection, and symptoms typically show up four to 28 days after exposure, usually in women. Men often have no symptoms, so urge your husband to be tested. It is highly unlikely that one could acquire the infection through any means other than sex. The trich protozoa can live outside the body only for a very brief time. However, during that brief time, it is possible (though exceedingly rare) to contract trichomoniasis if the genital area comes into direct contact with infected damp or moist objects such as towels, clothing, bedding or bathing suits. You can get more details through the CDC (cdc.gov/std) at 1-888-232-6348 or ASHA (www.ashastd.org).