Trichomoniasis: Symptoms, Causes And Treatment

Trichomoniasis: symptoms, causes and treatment
Submitted and Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Mavra Farrukh


Trichomoniasis (trich) is a prevalent but curable sexually transmitted disease (STD). Most individuals who have trich don’t have symptoms. Therefore, they are unaware of whether they are infected. The absence of symptoms makes it easy to spread the infection unknowingly. Millions of people are diagnosed with this particular STD every year. Therefore you must have the correct information about the disease, and this article provides all the information you need. 

What is trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis also referred to as trich, is the most common sexually transmitted disease (STD). The name is derived from the parasite that causes the disease. It is known as Trichomonas vaginalis

Individuals can have trichomoniasis and not know that they have an infection, as this disease rarely causes symptoms. Trich is contagious, so there is a possibility that a person might unknowingly pass it on to others through sexual contact. 

How common is trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis is considered a curable and ubiquitous STD affecting men and women in the United States. About 3.7 million people have the disease. 

How is trichomoniasis spread?

Trichomoniasis is caused by a parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis which thrives in semen or vaginal fluids. The mode of transmission is unprotected anal, oral, or vaginal sex. It isn’t necessary for a man to ejaculate to pass his partner the parasite. This disease can also be transmitted by sharing sex toys as well.

What causes trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis is caused by a parasite passed on through unprotected sexual contact with someone who has the infection. Most commonly, it is transmitted through vaginal intercourse. Additionally, it can be spread through vulva to vulva contact by touching your partner’s genitals while having trichomoniasis discharge on your hands or sharing sex toys. Trich isn’t spread by sharing food or drinks, kissing, or hugging.

People may harbor the parasite for many months without actually knowing that they have the infection. Hence your partner may have gotten trich from a past relationship and just started exhibiting symptoms. It is also possible that you might have developed an infection due to a past relationship and passed it on to your current partner.

Rarely, there may be a possibility that you or your partner developed trich from something nonsexual. Some nonsexual trichomoniasis causes include: 

  • Public pools. If the water in the pool isn’t appropriately changed, there is a possibility that the parasite can spread.
  • Sharing towels. If you share towels with someone, there is a slight possibility of getting this infection.
  • Toilets. Using a public or outdoor toilet may risk getting trich, especially if the toilet seat is damp. 
  • Shared baths. One study in the past indicated that the parasite could spread through bathwater that multiple girls reused. This was reported in Zambia.

Although hardly any cases have been reported of trich being spread through these means, the possibility cannot be entirely excluded. 

Do you have symptoms of trich? Chat with our doctor to find out more.

What are the symptoms of trichomoniasis?

The symptoms appear anywhere from 5 to 28 days after exposure to the parasite. This is also termed the trich incubation period. 

In men, the parasite typically infects the urethra, whereas, in women, it may infect the: 

  • cervix
  • urethra 
  • vagina
  • vulva

Trichomoniasis symptoms in men and people assigned male at birth (AMAB)

Trichomoniasis in men leads to:

  • whitish penile discharge
  • burning post ejaculation
  • burning during urination
  • pain while having intercourse
  • redness and swelling around the head of the penis

Trichomoniasis symptoms in women and people assigned female at birth(AFAB)

Trichomoniasis in women leads to:

  • pain while urinating
  • painful intercourse
  • green, white or yellowish foul-smelling discharge from the vagina
  • redness, itching and burning inside and around the vagina
  • lower abdominal pain

Other symptoms of trich infection may include trichomoniasis bumps or trichomoniasis sores. 

Risk factors

Trich can affect all genders. However, older women are more likely to get the disease than men. Black women are more prone to getting the infection as well. 

Some risk factors for getting trichomoniasis include:

  • Having multiple sexual partners
  • If you have had other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) 
  • Having had trichomoniasis previously
  • Having intercourse without a condom

How is trichomoniasis diagnosed?

The following tests are carried out to diagnose trich:

  • Physical exam: In women, a pelvic exam is carried out by a physician. 
  • Lab test: This involves examining a sample of the genital discharge under a microscope. The vaginal swab is sent to the lab for further testing if required. This is a specific trichomoniasis test.
Do you have a foul-smelling greenish discharge? Talk with our doctor to get tested for STDs

How is trichomoniasis treated?

Without proper treatment, trich may last for months or years. The infection doesn’t resolve on its own. You can pass on the STD to your sexual partners when you’re infected. 

Trichomoniasis medications kill trich. Medications that are commonly prescribed include metronidazole (Flagyl) or tinidazole (Tindamax). If you are on treatment for trich, it is essential to keep the following in mind:

  • A single medication dose has a curative rate of 95%. However, men and women may be required to take the medication for up to five to seven days.
  • The individual with an infection and the sexual partners must be treated to prevent reinfection.
  • You must abstain from intercourse sex for one week after completing treatment. This gives ample time for the medication to work and for symptoms to clear up. Having sex sooner may lead to reinfection.
  • It is best to follow up with your doctor three months after the infection for re-testing or to ensure that it has entirely resolved. 

Trichomoniasis Medication

If you have been diagnosed with trich, there is no need to panic. The silver lining is that trich infection can be easily cured with antibiotics. However, your sexual partners must be treated too. Otherwise, the chances of infection are always there.

The treatment regimen involves taking several tablets or a course of an antibiotic tablet twice a day for one week. Mostly, people are cured in a week.

The following two medicines are commonly prescribed:

  • Metronidazole (Flagyl)
  • Tinidazole (Tindamax)

Trichomoniasis antibiotics kill the parasite that causes trich. Metronidazole comes in various formulations such as pills and creams, but only the pills work in treating trich.

You must take your medication as advised by your doctor. Completing the medication is equally important as well, even when you think that the symptoms have disappeared. For example, metronidazole and tinidazole work well and are similarly safe, but doctors typically prescribe metronidazole first. Therefore, if metronidazole does not work, tinidazole is prescribed next. Trichomoniasis treatment for males is the same. 

While taking this medication, avoiding alcohol for a short period is advisable. Furthermore, do not drink while taking the drug and even three days after your last dose. Drinking alcohol can result in severe nausea or vomiting.

How Long Do They Take to Work?

It takes 7 to 10 days to be cured. However, it is not uncommon for people to get the infection again a few months after treatment. To avoid reinfection, make sure your partner is treated as well. In addition, testing three months after treatment may help ensure you are disease-free. 

What are the complications of trichomoniasis? 

Untreated trich infection makes you more prone to getting infected with the human immunodeficiency virus in case of exposure. Untreated HIV can ultimately lead to AIDS. Women with trich and HIV are likely to pass both diseases on to their partners simultaneously. Therefore, the CDC recommends that HIV-positive women get tested for trich once a year.

How can trichomoniasis be prevented?

The following measures can help protect yourself against STDs

  • Using protection such as condoms.
  • Getting tested routinely for STDs.
  • Getting treated if you have trich o any other STDs.
  • Informing your sexual partners so they can be treated promptly.
  • Avoid having multiple sexual partners.

Reasons why trichomoniasis won’t go away

Some of the reasons why the infection won’t go away include:


It is possible to get reinfected with trich by your sexual partner even after completing treatment. Stats indicate that approximately 1 in 5 people get reinfected with trichomoniasis after receiving treatment. In order to prevent reinfection, you must avoid having sex while on treatment and ensure that your sexual partner is treated as well. Getting tested for trich around three months after your treatment helps ascertain that you didn’t get reinfected.

Metronidazole-resistant Trichomonas

Metronidazole is the first line of treatment against this STD. However, rarely are there cases in which Trichomonas may become resistant to metronidazole. This can be why your symptoms persist, even after proper treatment. In such cases, your doctor may increase the duration of the course of treatment, increase your dosage, or prescribe tinidazole.

Incomplete treatment

Many people stop taking antibiotics once the symptoms start to go away instead of completing the treatment. Most antibiotics start working within 2 to 3 days of the treatment, but completing the treatment is necessary to eliminate the infection. Otherwise, this can cause recurrent infections and give rise to antibiotic resistance.

A different STD

STDs such as chlamydia and gonorrhea can result in similar symptoms. Therefore, screening for other STDs is essential if you’re still experiencing symptoms despite receiving treatment.

How does trichomoniasis affect pregnancy?

Taking medication is considered safe if you get trichomoniasis while pregnant or breastfeeding. If the infection is left untreated, it can increase your risk of:

  • Premature labor 
  • Low birth weight 
  • Risk of infertility
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease

How long can trichomoniasis be dormant in a woman?

You don’t always experience genital itching and burning or painful urination and itching, it is possible to have trich for months or even years without knowing. This is primarily because many people, regardless of gender, either don’t have any symptoms or experience mild, unnoticeable symptoms.  

Another possibility is that women with trichomoniasis may mistake it for a yeast infection or a urinary tract infection

However, trichomoniasis is not dormant as a person can still spread trich to other people regardless of symptoms. Therefore, getting tested is vital if you think you might have trich. The proper treatment ensures that you get rid of the infection completely. 

Can women who have sex with women get trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis can also be passed on if you are a woman who has sex only with women. Therefore, it is vital that you talk to your partner regarding their sexual history before having sex and get tested if you are portraying any signs of trich.

Is trichomoniasis a female STD?

Trich is an STI. Although trichomoniasis may be more common in women and people AFAB, men and people AMAB can also get it.

Can a man have trichomoniasis and test negative?

While it may be easy to diagnose trich, the diagnosis of this infection can also be missed on a test. That is mainly because the culture requires a particular concentration of around 10^3/ml of living protozoa to be detected. Therefore, the result may be negative even if you do have trich. One of the reasons why this can occur is that the sample may be diluted (from not using first-void urine). Therefore, you can still spread the infection even if the test shows a false negative. Therefore, you will need to seek treatment if your partner tests positive for trich, even if your test result is negative.

Is trichomoniasis a type of chlamydia?

No. Trichomoniasis and chlamydia are two separate infections. Trichomoniasis is caused by a whereas a bacterium causes chlamydia.

Can you have trichomoniasis and chlamydia at the same time?

It is possible to contract multiple STDs at the same time. Getting tested and the proper treatment helps ensure that you are cured of the infections. 

Trichomoniasis symptoms vs BV

Bacterial vaginosis can sometimes be mistaken for trich. Therefore it is imperative to get STD testing to identify the infection. 

Some symptoms of BV and trich may overlap and result in confusion. In the case of trich, here are some signs to look out for:

  • Pain when you urinate
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Green vaginal discharge
  • Foul-smelling odor 
  • Redness, burning and itching around the genital area

Here are the most common symptoms of BV:

  • Grey, white or green discharge
  • Foul-smelling fishy odor 
  • Burning while urinating
  • Itchiness inside or around the vagina

When to Consult a Doctor

Millions of people are diagnosed with trichomoniasis every year. It spreads quickly because most people don’t experience symptoms and are unaware if they have the infection. Please consult our online doctor for advice, treatment, and suggestions to prevent further STDs. 

Do you have a foul-smelling greenish discharge? Get prescription for trich after consulting with our doctor.

FAQs About Trichomoniasis Answered By Your Doctors Online

What is the fastest way to cure trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis is easily cured with antibiotics. Metronidazole is commonly prescribed to treat the condition.

Can you treat trichomoniasis without a doctor?

Home remedies are not effective against trichomoniasis. Treatment with antibiotics is required to get rid of the infection. 

Can I test myself for trichomoniasis?

There are testing kits available that can be ordered online to test for trich. You can take your own samples, like urine or genital swabs, and send them to a lab for testing. 

Can trichomoniasis go away on its own in males?

Trichomoniasis usually does not go away on its own. Therefore, antibiotic such as metronidazole is taken twice daily for 5-7 days to cure the infection. 

Can probiotics get rid of trichomoniasis?

A probiotic may help maintain vaginal flora and act indirectly by preventing recurrent bacterial vaginosis and slightly decreasing the chances of STI transmission. However, further studies are definitely needed to come to a definite conclusion. 

How does hydrogen peroxide cure trichomoniasis?

Research has not yielded any specific results regarding hydrogen peroxide’s effectiveness in treating trichomoniasis. Although hydrogen peroxide causes vaginal ad penile tissue irritation and kills off healthy bacteria as well

Can a UTI cause trichomoniasis?

UTI does not turn into an STD or cause trichomoniasis. It is a sexually transmitted disease. However, research has revealed that nonsexual transmission of trichomonas can occur through fomites like towels, toilet seats, and swimming pools. 

Can I take medicine for trichomoniasis if I am breastfeeding?

Taking medication for trichomoniasis is considered safe if you get trichomoniasis while pregnant or breastfeeding.

Can you get trichomoniasis with a condom?

Using latex condoms while having sex may help reduce the risk of spreading trichomoniasis, but transmission may be possible. 

Can you get trichomoniasis without having sex?

This disease is mainly transmitted through unprotected sexual activity, but some studies have nonsexual transmission of trichomoniasis can occur through fomites like towels from swimming pools or toilet seats.

Can you have trich for years?

People may harbor the parasite for many months or even years without actually knowing that they have the infection. 

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