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Trichomoniasis Infection

Trichomoniasis facts*

*Trichomoniasis facts Medically Edited by: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

  • Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or sexually transmitted  infection (STI) caused by a parasite.
  • Trichomonas infection can affect women or men and is spread via sexual contact.
  • Many people who have the infection have no symptoms, but when symptoms occur, they include
    • vaginal or urethral (in men) discharge that may appear greenish and frothy;
    • burning on urination;
    • discomfort during sex, and
    • itching in the genital area.
  • Diagnosis is based upon identifying the parasite through miscroscopic examination of the vaginal or urethral discharge. This is the best test for Trichomonas infection.
  • Trichomonas infection can be treated and cured with antibiotic medications. Antibiotics cure the infection, but it may come back (recurr).
  • If trichomoniasis is not treated the infection can persist over the long term.
  • There are no effective home remedies for trichomoniasis infection.
  • Trichomonas infection during pregnancy can lead to premature birth and low birth weight.

What is trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis is an STI (STD) caused by a parasite. It is one of the most common STIs in the United States.

How do you get trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis is spread through:

  • Vaginal, oral, or anal sex. Trichomoniasis can be spread even if there are no symptoms. This means you can get trichomoniasis from someone who has no signs or symptoms.
  • Genital touching. A man does not need to ejaculate (come) for trichomoniasis to spread. Trichomoniasis can also be passed between women who have sex with women.

Who gets trichomoniasis?

  • Trichomoniasis is more common in women than men.
  • It affects more than 2 million women ages 14 to 49 in the United States.
  • Trichomoniasis affects more African-American women than white and Hispanic women. The risk for African-American women goes up with age and lifetime number of sex partners.

What are the signs and symptoms of trichomoniasis?

Most infected women have no signs or symptoms. If you do get signs or symptoms, they might appear five to 28 days after exposure and can include:

  • Irritation and itching in the genital area
  • Thin or frothy discharge with an unusual foul odor that can be clear, white, yellowish, or greenish
  • Discomfort during sex and when urinating
  • Lower abdominal pain (this is rare)

If you think you may have trichomoniasis, you and your sex partner(s) need to see a doctor or nurse as soon as possible.

Is there a test to diagnose trichomoniasis?

To find out whether you have trichomoniasis, your doctor or nurse may:

  • Do a pelvic exam
  • Use a cotton swab to take a fluid sample from your vagina to look for the parasite under a microscope
  • Do a lab test, such as a DNA test or a fluid culture. A culture tests uses urine or a swab from your vagina. The parasite then grows in a lab. It takes up to a week for the parasite to grow enough to be seen.

A Pap test is not used to detect trichomoniasis.

If you have trichomoniasis, you need to be tested for other STIs too.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/2/2016


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