Trichomoniasis (Trichomonal Vaginitis; “Trich”)

Esta guía en Español Young men's version of this guide
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female gender symbolTrichomoniasis is a common type of vaginal infection (vaginitis). It occurs in both teens and adults.

What causes trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis is caused by a single-cell parasite called a trichomonad. Unlike yeast infections, you get trichomoniasis through sexual intercourse, so it is a sexually transmitted infection.

Who is at risk for trichomoniasis?

An estimated 3.7 million people in the United States are infected with Trichomoniasis. During sex, the parasite is transferred from one person to another. If a woman has more than one sexual partner, her chance of getting trichomoniasis is much higher. It’s NOT spread by toilet seats.

The parasite affects the vagina, urethra (the canal that carries urine from the bladder to outside the body), and bladder of women and the penis of men. Most people with trichomoniasis do not have symptoms, so they may not get treated and may spread the infection to their partners. About 30% of women with trichomoniasis have symptoms of discharge or burning with urination.

What are some signs/symptoms of trichomoniasis?

Signs of trichomoniasis may include a yellow-gray-green, frothy vaginal discharge with a foul or fishy odor. The vagina may be sore and red and may burn and itch. It may be painful to urinate or have sexual intercourse. However, most women with trichomoniasis do not have any symptoms.

How can a health care provider tell if I have trichomoniasis?

A health care provider will use a cotton swab to take a sample of your vaginal discharge and do some tests. With trichomoniasis, the pH level of your vagina will be higher (less acidic) than the normal level of 4.5, and the trichomonad parasite may be seen under the microscope. Trichomoniasis can also be diagnosed by special trichomonas DNA tests or RNA tests or a culture.

Are there complications of trichomoniasis?

Having trichomoniasis can increase your risk of getting or spreading other sexually transmitted infections. For example, having trichomoniasis can cause genital inflammation, which can make it easier to get infected with or spread HIV to a sexual partner.

How is trichomoniasis treated?

If you’re diagnosed with trichomoniasis, your health care provider will give you a prescription for a specific antibiotic (most commonly metronidazole or tinidazole) for both you and your sexual partner(s). You and your partner(s) should let your health care provider know about any other medications that you’re taking. Both of you need to be treated.

Medication for trichomoniasis is only available by prescription. You and your partner need to take the whole dose of the medication for it to be the most effective. It’s common to give the prescription in a single dose. Don’t drink alcohol for 24 hours after taking metronidazole or 72 hours after taking tinidazole, or you’ll vomit.

If you take all of the antibiotic dose, trichomoniasis is usually cured. You and your partner(s) should avoid sexual intercourse until both of you are completely cured. You can be infected again if you don’t take the proper precautions to prevent a sexually transmitted infection.

How do you prevent trichomoniasis?

The only way to prevent trichomoniasis completely is to not have sex. If you’re going to have sex, a latex condom is the most effective way to lower your risk of getting trichomoniasis and other STIs.