Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a tiny parasite called trichomonas vaginalis (TV).
Symptoms of trichomoniasis usually develop within a month of infection, although up to half of all infected men and women have no symptoms.
The symptoms of trichomoniasis are similar to those of many other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) so it can sometimes be difficult to diagnose.
In women, this parasite mainly infects the vagina and urethra (tube that carries urine out of the body). In men, the infection most commonly affects the urethra, but the head of the penis or prostate gland (a gland near the bladder that helps produce semen) can become infected in some cases.
The parasite is usually spread by having unprotected sex (sex without a condom). It could also be spread by sharing sex toys if you don't wash them or cover them with a new condom before use.
You don't have to have many sexual partners to catch trichomoniasis. Anyone who is sexually active can catch it and pass it on.
Symptoms in women
Trichomoniasis in women can cause any of the following symptoms:
- abnormal vaginal discharge that may be thick, thin or frothy and yellow-green in colour
- producing more discharge than normal, which may also have an unpleasant fishy smell
- soreness, inflammation (swelling) and itching around the vagina - sometimes the inner thighs also become itchy
- pain or discomfort when passing urine or having sex
Symptoms in men
Trichomoniasis in men can cause any of the following symptoms:
- pain during urination or ejaculation
- needing to urinate more frequently than usual
- thin white discharge from the penis
- soreness, swelling and redness around the head of the penis (balanitis) or foreskin (balano-posthitis)
How to get tested?
You can pop into any of our clinics and be examined by a nurse or doctor if you are experiencing any of the symptoms outlined above. We have clinics open 7 days a week. Download our clinic timetable.
Please note: We have a microscopist at some of our weekly clinics who can look under a microspore and often diagnose trichomoniasis there and then. This enables us to to provide you with treatment to take away with you. Clinics with a microscopist:
Every Tuesday and Friday, 9.00am - 12noon
Arrowe Park Hospital, 2nd Floor, Upton CH49 5PE
Every Thursday, 1.00pm - 3.00pm
Gemini Centre, St Catherine's Health Centre, 2nd Floor, Green Wing, Derby Road, Birkenhead CH42 0LQ
Trichomoniasis can usually be diagnosed after an examination of the genitals and a laboratory test carried out on a swab taken from the vagina or penis or a urine test. If the test shows you have trichomoniasis it's important that your current partner and any other recent partners are also tested and treated.
Trichomoniasis is unlikely to go away without treatment, but it can be effectively treated with antibiotics. Most men and women are treated with an antibiotic called metronidazole, which is usually taken twice a day for five to seven days.
It's important to complete the whole course of antibiotics and avoid having sex until the infection clears up, to prevent reinfection.
Your current sexual partner and any other recent partners should also be treated.