Metronidazole is a generic medicine based on the active ingredient of the same name. As an antibiotic, it is exceptionally successful in fighting a number of different infections caused by anaerobic bacteria and protozoa. Among these are trichomoniasis, caused by the parasite Trichomonas vaginalis (TV) and bacterial vaginosis (BV) caused by the imbalance in vaginal flora. While the latter can’t be classified as a conventional STI, trichomoniasis definitely can. Metronidazole-based antibiotics have been used for many years now and with exceptional success and they can be obtained in the standard tablet form, either in several generic versions, or as a branded Flagyl, produced and marketed by the pharmaceutical company Zentiva.
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What is trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by a microscopic parasite Trichomonas vaginalis. It can be transmitted from one individual to the other through unprotected sexual acts, including vaginal and oral sex as well as the use of sex toys. The exact symptoms that might manifest as a result of the infection are gender specific.
In women, the tell-tale signs of trichomoniasis include sore or painful vagina, painful urination, lower abdominal pain and the presence of yellowish to green vaginal discharge. In men, abdominal pain is absent, but painful urination is also present in addition to inflammation of the tip of the penis and the appearance of white penile discharge. However, it is also important to note that around 50% of all those affected, regardless of their sex, will notice no symptoms whatsoever.
How is trichomoniasis treated?
The single most commonly prescribed trichomoniasis treatment is metronidazole, either as a generic medicine or as branded Flagyl. Metroinidazole is very effective in stopping and eliminating both bacterial and parasitic infection, while acting rapidly to prevent it from spreading to unaffected parts of the organism.
The secret to efficiency of metronidazole as an active ingredient of many STI medicines lies in its mechanism of action. Once introduced into the system, metronidazole will prevent the synthesis of nucleic acids crucial for the sustenance and multiplication of the bacteria or parasite cells. In this way, metronidazole will effectively stop the infection from spreading by making multiplication and growth of the offending cells impossible, making it an easy target for the body’s natural defences.
I might have TV, what should I do?
If there is any reason to suspect you might have been infected by Trichomonas vaginalis, the first thing you should do is to get tested. Your suspicions might have been caused by a sexual encounter with someone who might be infected, or you just noticed the symptoms yourself – in any case, it is vital to undergo a proper STI test, even if the symptoms are completely absent. To do this, you can talk to your general practitioner, visit a local STI or GUM clinic or, alternatively, order an at-home STI testing kit, so you can collect the required samples in the comfort of your own home.
Whatever the method you decide to use in the end, if you have tested positive for TV, you should use the test results to obtain a prescription. Again, this can be done either through a face-to-face meeting with your doctor or medical expert at a GUM clinic, or through an online clinic. If you choose the latter option, all you have to do is take a custom medical questionnaire and provide the doctor employed at the online clinic of your choice with the results of your test. Once he assesses the suitability for the preferred treatment, he will issue you a prescription and use it that very same instance to send the medicine to your doorstep in a discreet packaging.
How is metronidazole treatment used?
Metronidazole-based antibiotics are prescription-only medicines, so the doctor will provide you with all the relevant information about the safe use of this medicine. In addition to this, it is recommended to carefully read the official patient information leaflet that is issued within every pack of the medicine.
Some of the most general guidelines include:
- Take the medicine as prescribed
- The typical dose for TV treatment is 400mg two times per day over the course of 5-7 days
- Those affected by HIV might receive a larger dose
- Take tablets whole with a glass of water
- Never exceed the prescribed amount
- Do not drink alcohol while using this medicine and refrain from drinking for additional 48 hours after your last dose
- Do not doubt a dose to make up for the missed one – if you forget to take your medicine, just continue with the treatment as usual
What are metronidazole side effects?
Metronidazole-based medicines are rather safe when it comes to possibility of experiencing unwanted side effects. While not everyone will experience them, it is still important to get familiar with the possibilities, so you can be prepared in advance. The most commonly reported side effects is completely benign and just mildly unpleasant, namely, a metallic taste in the mouth. Other, less common side effects include:
- Allergic reaction
- Confusion and loss of coordination
- Mouth ulcers
- Bleeding gums
- Sight problems
- Skin rash
- Cloudy urine
- Upset stomach
- General malaise
Is metronidazole safe for me?
The suitability of any single potential user for metronidazole treatment will depend on numerous factors. The most important are pre-existing medical conditions and treatments that might be taken for them.
There are several medicines that have been known to adversely interact with metronidazole. These include:
- Epilepsy treatments (Phenytoin, Primidone, Phenobarbitone)
- 5 fluorouracil
In addition to this, metronidazole will not be recommended to people who had or currently had any of the following conditions:
- Liver diseases
- Kidney diseases
- Nervous system diseases
Medical experts also agree that metronidazole shouldn’t be used in the first three months of pregnancy or if you are currently breastfeeding. After finishing metronidazole course, a woman may continue breastfeeding after waiting for at least 24 hours.
Finally, metronidazole contains different lactose sugars, so this medicine should be avoided if you are lactose intolerant.