What is trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis is an STI caused by a parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. It can infect the vagina and urethra, so both men and women can get it. You can become infected by having sex with someone who has it.
What are the symptoms of trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis symptoms usually appear within a month of catching the infection. Sometimes symptoms take longer, up to several months, to appear. Around half of people who have it don’t show signs at all.
Trichomoniasis symptoms for women include:
Yellow or greenish discharge, which may smell or appear frothy
Pain when peeing
Discomfort or pain when having sex
Soreness or itching in the vagina
Lower abdominal pain
Trichomoniasis symptoms for men include:
Discharge from the penis
Pain when peeing
Peeing more often than usual
Swelling or redness around the tip of the penis
What causes trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis is spread through semen or vaginal fluid during unprotected sex with an infected person and can be caused by:
Unprotected vaginal sex
Genital touching (skin-to-skin contact)
Using or sharing sex toys that aren’t clean
Unlike many STIs, you can’t catch trichomoniasis through oral or anal sex.
You can’t pass on trichomoniasis through:
Sharing cutlery, plates, glasses or cups
Using a toilet seat or sharing a bathroom
Kissing on the lips or hugging
How common is trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis is common, and millions of people are infected each year. It is the most common STI.
How is trichomoniasis diagnosed?
A trichomoniasis test involves taking a sample from the vagina or penis using a swab or sometimes from a urine sample.
How is trichomoniasis treated?
Trichomoniasis treatment involves a course of antibiotics tablets called metronidazole, usually for 5 to 7 days. It’s vital to finish the course of antibiotics and not to have sex during that time. You could pass the infection on if you do.
Metronidazole can make you feel sick, and you shouldn’t drink alcohol while taking it.
If you’re diagnosed with trichomoniasis, it’s a good idea to let anyone you’ve had sex with know as you may have infected them. They must get tested too to prevent the risk of the infection from spreading.
How can I avoid trichomoniasis?
You can catch trichomoniasis more than once. The best way to avoid catching it and other STIs is to have safe sex:
Use a condom or a dam whenever you have sex with a new partner
Use a dental dam (a protective square of plastic) for oral sex
Use a condom on sex toys and clean them thoroughly
Are there any complications of trichomoniasis?
When treated, trichomoniasis usually clears up quickly without complications.
If you’re pregnant and don’t get treatment, there could be risks to your baby, including premature birth and low birth weight. So, it’s vital to talk to the doctor as soon as possible to make sure you get the proper treatment.
When should I speak to a doctor?
If you’ve got symptoms of trichomoniasis, talk to a GP.
Because some people don’t get any symptoms, you should also ask a GP for a trichomoniasis test if you’ve:
Had unprotected sex with someone new
Had sex with someone who’s told you they have an STI
Got a partner who has had unprotected sex with someone else
Had a condom split with a new partner
If you’re pregnant, it’s essential to talk to a GP immediately if you think you might have trichomoniasis.
How can Livi help?
A Livi doctor can talk to you about your symptoms and give you advice on the next best steps.
- Reviewed by:
- Dr Bryony Henderson, Lead GP at Livi