Last updated: October 13, 2022
What is trichomoniasis?
It is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a parasite.
How do I get it?
The parasite is sexually transmitted through penis-to-vagina intercourse or vulva-to-vulva (the genital area outside the vagina) contact with an infected partner.
What are the symptoms of trichomoniasis?
The symptoms in women usually appear within 5 to 28 days of exposure. They are:
- A frothy, yellow-green vaginal discharge with a strong odor.
- Discomfort during intercourse and urination.
- Irritation and itching of the female genital area.
Most men with trichomoniasis do not have signs or symptoms; however, some men may temporarily have an irritation inside the penis, mild discharge, or slight burning after urination or ejaculation.
How can I prevent getting trichomoniasis?
The best way to prevent getting trichomoniasis is to avoid sexual contact with an infected person. One way to do this is by practicing abstinence. Abstinence means not having sex with anyone. Another way to prevent getting trichomoniasis is by having only one partner who only has sex with you.
People who decide to have sex, especially if they have multiple partners, must be responsible for protecting themselves and others from infections. Do this by knowing the right way to use condoms and using them every time you have sex. Condoms can help prevent the spread of trichomoniasis. Though not 100% effective, condoms are the best protection. Even if using another birth control method, use a condom if there is a risk of getting a sexually transmitted disease during sex. Also, it is important to avoid abusing alcohol and drugs because they can prevent you from making safe choices to protect your health.
Is there a test and treatment for trichomoniasis?
Yes. Your doctor performs a pelvic exam and may see small red sores inside the vagina or on the cervix. A fluid sample from the vagina may show the parasite under a microscope or the sample can be tested in a lab.
Trichomoniasis can usually be cured with a medication prescribed by your doctor. The symptoms of trichomoniasis in infected men may disappear within a few weeks without treatment. However, an infected man with or without symptoms can continue to infect or reinfect a female partner until he has been treated. Therefore, both partners should be treated at the same time to eliminate the parasite. If you or your partner has trichomoniasis, do not have sex until treatment is complete. Take all medicine as prescribed, even if you had no symptoms or your symptoms are gone. If you are pregnant, get tested for STIs and HIV early and again late in your pregnancy. If you think you have symptoms, call the Department of Health for confidential referral and treatment.
What happens if I have trichomoniasis and I am not treated?
If trichomoniasis is not treated, in rare cases it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease in women, which can cause infertility, chronic pelvic pain or ectopic pregnancy. Also, trichomoniasis can cause small sores and inflammation, which can increase the risk of HIV transmission. Detection and treatment of a trichomoniasis infection will help lower your risk of contracting HIV.
- Getting HIV
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (women)
- Infertility (unable to have babies)
- Ectopic (tubal) pregnancy
- Chronic Pelvic Pain