- Trichomoniasis, or "trich," is a common and curable sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a parasite.
- Most trichomoniasis cases are asymptomatic, so routine STI testing is important for diagnosis.
- Trichomoniasis spreads easily through sexual contact and can lead to health complications if left untreated.
What is trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis (known as “trich” for short), is a common and curable STI that is caused by a parasite. Most trichomoniasis cases are asymptomatic, so routine STI testing is important to get diagnosed.
How common is trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis is very common. According to the Cleveland Clinic, around 3.7 million people have trich in the United States.
What causes Trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis is caused by a parasite called Trichomonas Vaginalis. This parasite spreads easily between sexual partners and will usually cause symptoms within 5 to 28 days, according to the CDC. However, only 30% of infections actually become symptomatic. Many people cannot tell they have a trich infection.
How do you get trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis spreads easily through sexual contact with someone who has it. Because most people don’t know they have it, it is important to protect yourself by practicing safe sex.
How is trichomoniasis spread?
Trich spreads easily with sexual fluids, such as:
- Vaginal fluids
Who is at risk for getting trichomoniasis?
Anyone who is sexually active is at risk of contracting trichomoniasis. People who are at a higher risk according to the CDC are:
- People with multiple sexual partners
- People who have unprotected sex
- Previously having trichomoniasis
- Having other STIs
Signs and symptoms of trichomoniasis
Many people with trichomoniasis infections have no symptoms. However, symptoms may develop weeks or months after contracting the parasite.
When symptoms are present, however, they can be different for men and women.
Symptoms of trichomoniasis in women
Women are more likely than men to develop symptoms of trich. The most common symptoms are:
- A change in color, amount, or smell of vaginal discharge
- Copious amounts of vaginal discharge
- Vaginal discharge that has a foul odor
- Vaginall redness, burning, and itching
- Pain or discomfort of the lower abdomen
Symptoms of trichomoniasis in men
Most men do not experience any symptoms of trich. However, symptoms may develop eventually. The most common symptoms of trich in men are:
- Itching and burning inside the urethra
- Burning sensation during urination or ejaculation
- Discharge from the penis
How will I know if I have trichomoniasis?
Since many trich infections are asymptomatic or present with symptoms similar to other STIs, the only way to know for sure if you have trich is by getting tested.
Complications of trichomoniasis
The CDC reports that most cases of trichomoniasis have no symptoms, but if left untreated it can lead to health complications for both men and women.
Trich and pregnancy
A trichomoniasis infection during pregnancy can lead to premature birth and low birth weight.
Trichomoniasis and the risk of HIV
Having trichomoniasis raises the risk of contracting HIV. This is because trich disrupts the normal bacteria of the vagina, leaving a woman more susceptible to other infections. According to the CDC, engaging in less risky sexual activity (like using condoms correctly and consistently) is the best way to lower your risk of contracting HIV and other STIs.
Other complications related to trich
Trichomoniasis in women can disrupt the normal bacteria of the vagina, which raises the risk of developing bacterial vaginosis.
Prolonged trich infections can also lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women. PID can sometimes lead to infertility due to scar tissue formation.
Diagnosing and testing for trichomoniasis
Many times, a trichomoniasis infection has no symptoms. Regular STI testing is the best way to know if you have trich.
How is trichomoniasis diagnosed?
Trichomoniasis is diagnosed by laboratory testing that involves a urine sample or a culture from inside the vagina or penis.
How to test for trichomoniasis
Testing for trichomoniasis is done at healthcare facilities like:
You can also get at-home tests for trichomoniasis or order a trichomoniasis test directly through Solv.
Trichomoniasis is treatable with the right antibiotics. According to the Mayo Clinic, antibiotics to treat trich are given in either a single “megadose” or in multiple doses over several days.
What medication do you take for trichomoniasis?
According to the CDC, the most common antibiotics to treat trichomoniasis are:
Is trich 100% curable?
Trichomoniasis is 100% curable with antibiotic treatment.
When can I have sex again?
You can resume sexual activity once you have completed your treatment for trichomoniasis. It is important that your sexual partners also get treatment as well.
Breastfeeding and trichomoniasis treatment
Some of the antibiotics used to treat trichomoniasis may not be safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women. Your healthcare provider can give you more information.
What can happen if trichomoniasis is not treated?
When trichomoniasis is not treated, it remains in the body and can spread to other people. Long-term trich can lead to other health complications, like pelvic inflammatory disease, reports the CDC.
How can I prevent trichomoniasis?
Barrier methods of protection help lower your risk of contracting trich from a sexual partner. Barrier protection includes:
- Dental dams
Using protection properly and consistently is key for protecting yourself from trich and other STIs.
Can I get trich again?
Yes, according to the CDC, you can get trichomoniasis more than once in your lifetime. This is why it is important to use protection and have honest communication with your sexual partners about their sexual health and recent screenings.
Frequently asked questions
How does trichomoniasis affect a pregnant woman and her baby?
Trichomoniasis can cause premature birth and low birth weight, reports the CDC.
When do trichomoniasis symptoms appear?
According to the CDC, only around 30% of trichomoniasis cases end up showing symptoms. Symptoms can appear anytime, even weeks or months into an infection.
Can women who have sex with women get trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis can spread through vaginal fluid, so women who have sex with other women can spread trich between them.
Is trichomoniasis a type of chlamydia?
No, chlamydia is caused by a bacteria.
Is trichomoniasis a female STD?
Trichomoniasis is an STI that can affect both men and women.
When should I see my healthcare provider?
You should see a healthcare provider right away if you start experiencing any of the symptoms of trich. However, because many trich infections have no symptoms, it is important to get regular STI screenings.
Can trichomoniasis go away on its own?
No, trichomoniasis won't go away without treatment with an appropriate antibiotic.
Can trichomoniasis be caused by poor hygiene?
No, trichomoniasis is caused by a parasite that is spread through sexual fluid.
Can a UTI cause trichomoniasis?
No, trichomoniasis is caused by a parasite, whereas most UTIs are caused by bacteria.
Is trichomoniasis (trich) contagious?
Yes, trichomoniasis is contagious and easily spread by sexual contact with someone who has it.
Solv has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.
- Trichomoniasis—CDC Fact Sheet, (February 15, 2023)
- Trichomoniasis—Mayo Clinic, (February 15, 2023)
- Trichomoniasis—Cleveland Clinic, (February 15, 2023)
- Trichomoniasis—Planned Parenthood, (February 15, 2023)