Last updated:

Reviewed by:

Dr Bryony Henderson

, Lead GP at Livi

Medically reviewed

Trichomoniasis, or ‘trich’ for short, is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI). Symptoms of trichomoniasis include pain, discharge and soreness in the genitals. Read about how it’s diagnosed and treated.

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.

Last updated:
Reviewed by:
Dr Bryony Henderson, Lead GP at Livi