What is trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis, also called "trich," is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) that affects both men and women. It is caused by a protozoan parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis and is a cause of vaginal infections in women and urethral infections in men.

Is it common?

Trichomoniasis is an STI that affects approximately 5 million people in the US every year and is one of the most common, curable causes of vaginal infections in women.

How is it transmitted?

As with other STIs, trichomoniasis is spread through sexual contact. Transmission can occur even if a person does not have symptoms of infection. Women contract trichomoniasis from infected male or female partners while men usually contract it only from female partners. Using condoms and/or dental dams provide some protection. Their use is strongly encouraged, but is not 100% safe. Trichomoniasis can also survive on infected objects like sheets, towels, and underwear and could be transmitted by sharing them.

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What are the symptoms?

Many people with trichomoniasis experience no symptoms; however, some common symptoms women may experience include:

  • Genital itching and/or burning
  • Vaginal or vulval redness
  • Frothy yellow-green vaginal discharge with a strong odor
  • Blood spotting
  • Frequent and/or painful urination
  • Discomfort during intercourse
  • Abdominal pain

A woman might also find that the above symptoms worsen after menstruation and that the symptoms may be confused with a yeast infection. This fact emphasizes the importance of always having a yeast infection diagnosed properly, because it might not be a yeast infection.

Men are usually asymptomatic, but if a man has symptoms, they can include:

  • Unusual penile discharge
  • Painful urination
  • Burning sensation after ejaculation
  • Tingling inside the penis.

How soon after exposure to trichomoniasis will symptoms appear?

If symptoms appear, it usually takes from 3 to 28 days for them to develop.

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How is it diagnosed?

A medical provider will take a swab of fluid from a male's urethra or from a female's vagina and will examine it under a microscope to see if trichomoniasis is present.

How is it treated?

Trichomoniasis can be treated with oral antibiotics, usually a single dose. It is especially important that both partners are treated at the same time because an infected man, even a man who has never had symptoms or whose symptoms have stopped, can continue to infect a female partner until he has been treated. Anyone being treated for trichomoniasis should avoid sex until they and their sex partners have completed the treatment.

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Can trichomoniasis infections be dangerous?

As mentioned above, trichomoniasis is one of the most common and most curable STIs. The symptoms are more annoying than they are threatening to your health. The genital inflammation caused by trichomoniasis might however, increase a person's risk of acquiring HIV infection if s/he is exposed to HIV or might also increase the chances of transmitting HIV infection to a sex partner. In rare cases, trichomoniasis in pregnant women may cause a premature rupture of the membranes and early delivery.

Links you can use

For more information about trichomoniasis, you can visit:

Centers for Disease Control

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