Trichomoniasis

General Information: 

If you think you have a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) or that you have been exposed to an STI, such as Trichomoniasis, STOP having sex immediately until you are tested and/or treated by a medical provider.

For more information about Sexually Transmitted Infections, visit: http://www.cdc.gov/std/default.htm

What is it?: 
  • Trichomonas vaginalis is a microscopic, protozoan parasite.
  • Infection with T. vaginalis is called Trichomoniasis (trick-oh-moe-nye-uh-sis).
  • Trichomoniasis is a very common STI that is more common in women than in men.
  • Older women are more likely than younger women to become infected with Trichomonas.
  • In women, the most commonly infected part of the body is the lower genital tract (vulva, vagina, or urethra).
  • In men, the most commonly infected body part is the inside of the penis (urethra).
How do I get it?: 
How is Trichomonas spread?
  • Trichomonas is spread from an infected person to an uninfected person during sex.
  • Sex is putting the penis into the vagina, rectum, or mouth; and/or putting the mouth on the penis, vagina, or rectum.
  • Trichomonas is usually transmitted from a penis to a vagina, or from a vagina to a penis, but it can also be passed from a vagina to another vagina.
  • Infection is more common in women and men who have had multiple sexual partners.
  • It is not common for Trichomonas to infect other body parts like the hands, mouth, or rectum.
  • Factors such as age and overall health may affect whether a person with the infection gets symptoms.
  • Infected people without symptoms can still pass the infection on to others.
  • People who had Trichomoniasis and received antibiotic treatment can get infected again if they have sexual contact with a person infected with Trichomonas.
If I have Trichomoniasis and I'm pregnant, can I spread it to my baby?
  • Pregnant women with Trichomoniasis are more likely to have their babies too early (premature or preterm delivery).
  • Babies born to infected mothers are more likely to have low birth weights (less that 5.5 pounds).
  • See your healthcare provider about testing and treatment of Trichomoniasis during pregnancy.
How Common is it?: 
  • Trichomoniasis is considered the most common curable STD.
  • In the U.S., about 4 million people have Trichomoniasis, but only about 30% develop any symptoms of the infection.
  • Infection is more common in women than in men.
  • Older women are more likely than younger women to be infected
What happens if I get it?: 
  • Having Trichomoniasis can make it feel unpleasant to have sex.
  • Without treatment, Trichomoniasis can last for months or even years.
  • Trichomoniasis can increase the risk of getting or spreading other STIs.
  • Trichomoniasis can cause genital inflammation that can increase a person's chances of acquiring or transmitting HIV - this virus that causes AIDS.
Signs and Symptoms: 
Most women and men who have Trichomoniasis cannot tell they are infected. Symptoms may develop 5-28 days after being infected, or even later. Symptoms of the infection vary, and may come and go.
Women:
  • Symptoms range from mild to severe inflammation.
  • Clear, white, yellowish, or greenish discharge from the vagina.
  • Foul-smelling discharge from the vagina.
  • Vaginal itching or burning.
  • Vaginal redness or soreness.
  • Discomfort with urination.
  • Frequent urges to urinate.
  • Painful sexual intercourse.
  • Lower abdominal discomfort.
  • Some women will have sudden onset of symptoms during or after a menstrual period.
Men:
  • Itching or irritation inside the penis.
  • Discharge from the penis.
  • Burning during or after urination.
  • Burning after ejaculation.
  • Most men do not have symptoms.
How can I tell if I have Trichomoniasis?
  • Most women and men may not have any symptoms.
  • Chances are you won't be able to tell if you have Trichomoniasis unless you get tested.
  • That's why it's important to get your free IWTK test kit or have your healthcare provider do a test.
Diagnosis and Treatment: 
How is Trichomoniasis diagnosed?
Women:
  • Your healthcare provider can take a vaginal swab for examination.
  • Diagnosis is commonly made by viewing the parasite using a microscope (called a “wet prep”).
  • Culturing for the parasite is another way to diagnose infection.
  • Another way to diagnose Trichomoniasis is by using a molecular test, which is better than wet prep or culture, and is the way IWTK performs the test.
  • Urine can be used in the molecular test, as well as a sample from a PAP test (collected in liquid PAP media).
Men:
  • Your healthcare provider can take a urethral swab or urine sample for examination.
  • Diagnosis is commonly made by viewing the parasite using a microscope (called a “wet prep”).
  • Culturing for the parasite is another way to diagnose infection.
  • Another way to diagnose Trichomoniasis is by using a molecular test, which is better than wet prep or culture, and is the way IWTK performs the test.
  • Urine can be used in the molecular test.
How does IWTK diagnose Trichomoniasis?
  • Women: you collect your own vaginal and/or rectal swab in the comfort of your own home.
  • Men: you collect your own penile (surface swabbing) and/or rectal swab in the comfort of your own home.
  • Men and women mail their self-collected swab(s) back to our laboratory, and we test them using a highly sensitive molecular test which gives the most accurate result possible.
 Is Trichomoniasis treatable?
  • Yes! Trichomoniasis is treatable.
  • Trichomoniasis can be cured with prescription antibiotics (medicines) which are taken by mouth.
  • It is okay for pregnant women to take this medication.
  • People who have been treated for Trichomoniasis can get it again.
  • About 1 in 5 people get infected again within 3 months after treatment.
Prevention: 
Can Trichomoniasis be prevented?
Yes.
Follow these guidelines:
  • Abstain from sexual intercourse; or use a latex condom properly, every time you have sex (vaginal, anal, or oral), with every partner.
  • Limit your sexual partners. The more sex partners you have, the greater your risk of encountering someone who has this or other STIs.
  • If you are infected, your sexual partner(s) should be notified so they can be tested and treated. This will prevent you from getting reinfected.
  • Always see a healthcare provider if you have any signs or symptoms of an STI.
  • There is no vaccine to prevent Trichomoniasis.
Once I have had Trichomoniasis, am I immune?
  • No. You can get infected with Trichomonas again.