Trichomoniasis Symptoms

Most who contract trichomoniasis ("trich") will show no symptoms at all and those who do may experience different levels of severity. And even when symptoms do subside, the infection lives on in the body until properly treated.

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What is Trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by a microscopic parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. It is the most common non-viral STD in the United States, with millions of people infected at any given time. Because the disease is generally asymptomatic, and certain symptoms are sporadic and not unique to just trichomoniasis, the only way to know for sure if you’ve been infected is to take a reliable STD test. Fortunately, trichomoniasis is easily curable with (usually) a single dose of prescribed antibiotic.

How do I know if I have trichomoniasis?

Since the vast majority of people who contract trichomoniasis will experience no symptoms whatsoever, the only way to know for sure if you’ve contracted trichomoniasis is to find a reliable provider of STD testing services and get tested. Those who do experience symptoms may notice itching or burning near the genital region and discomfort while urinating. Unusual discharge from the vagina or penis is also possible. However, since these symptoms are not necessarily specific to trichomoniasis, you’ll want to confirm any suspicions by taking a trichomoniasis test.

How is trichomoniasis contracted?

The trichomoniasis parasite is carried in sexual fluids and is generally spread through heterosexual intercourse or, to a lesser extent, genital-to-genital contact. Although less likely, it is possible to spread trichomoniasis through touching the genitals of an infected person and sharing sex toys. While the parasite can easily infect the penis and vagina, it is uncommon for it to be spread to the mouth or anus. Generally, however, it is unlikely that you’ll spread or contract the disease by way of anything other than sexual intercourse with an infected partner.

Because people carrying trichomoniasis often have no symptoms, you or your partner may not realize you’ve been infected until it’s too late. It is not uncommon for the disease to spread from one person to another without either partner being aware.

Despite rumors and urban legends, you cannot catch trichomoniasis from a toilet seat, doorknob, handshake, or anything of the sort. It is impossible for trichomoniasis to be passed through saliva, through the air, or by way of casual contact with people or objects.

Can you get trichomoniasis from kissing?

Since trichomoniasis is transmitted from person to person by way of sexual fluids, and not by way of saliva, you cannot contract nor pass it along by merely kissing. Likewise, you cannot get it from casual contact, by sharing drinks or utensils, or by simply being in the presence of an infected individual.

Can you get trichomoniasis without having sex?

Keeping in mind that trichomoniasis is spread through the transmission of sexual fluids from one person to another, it is highly unlikely that anything other than intimate sexual activity will lead to the contracting of trichomoniasis. That being said, is could theoretically be possible to contract the disease by way of shared sex toys or other actions outside of intercourse during which fluids are passed.

Can anyone contract trichomoniasis?

Yes, as there is no natural immunity to trichomoniasis, any sexually active person is potentially at risk of contracting the disease. Furthermore, contracting the disease once does not lead to a lifetime immunity as it does with other conditions. It is certainly possible, and not at all uncommon, to contract trichomoniasis more than once in a lifetime.

How is trichomoniasis prevented?

The best way to avoid infection is through a variety of safer sex practices. Condoms, dental dams, reducing your number of partners, being in a mutually monogamous relationship, and, of course, abstinence are all ways of decreasing your risk of exposure.

If you were treated for trichomoniasis, you’ll want to make sure that your partners have been tested and treated as well. If they have not been, you run the risk of re-infection.

If you are aware that your partner has trichomoniasis, avoid sexual contact with them until they have been treated and their symptoms are gone. You’ll want to get tested and, if necessary, treated for the disease as well. In addition to safe sex practices, getting tested regularly is key in preventing the spread of trichomoniasis.

Do condoms protect against trichomoniasis?

Using condoms correctly can certainly help lower the risk of trichomoniasis transmission, but it will not eliminate the risk entirely. Since infections can develop anywhere in the genital region and not just on the penis itself, it is possible to contract or pass along trichomoniasis even when condoms are used.

What do trichomoniasis symptoms look like?

Most people who carry the parasite have no symptoms. Because of this, people may not know they have it and can unknowingly spread the disease to their sexual partners.

Women are more likely than men to develop symptoms. Trichomoniasis causes inflammation of the vagina, known as vaginitis. This can cause changes burning, itching, and pain during urination. You may also notice a frothy vaginal discharge which may be white, yellow, green, or gray in color and will have a fishy odor.

Symptoms are not as common in men, however certain men will experience discomfort and burning when urinating or after ejaculation as well as an unusual discharge from the urethra. Itching and irritation inside the penis is also possible.
If you have any of these symptoms, you’ll want to seek medical care immediately. Remember, these symptoms are generally not unique to trichomoniasis, so you’ll want to take a reliable test to know for sure what you have and how to treat it.

What can I expect when I get tested for trichomoniasis?

Getting tested for trichomoniasis involves a simple urine test. If your test shows that you are infected with trichomoniasis, you’ll want to consider getting tested for other sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, as having trichomoniasis makes it easier to contract and spread HIV. Because of this, and because many STDs have similar symptoms, Priority STD Testing offers panel testing options to cover multiple bases at once. Results are typically available in just 24-72 hours.

What can I expect from trichomoniasis treatment?

Fortunately, trichomoniasis is one of the easiest STDs to cure. Generally, your physician will prescribe a single dose of antibiotics, and you’ll be free of the disease within a few days. Your doctor may choose to treat you before you even get test results back as a precautionary measure. You need to abstain from alcohol use for 24 hours after taking antibiotics.

It is important that you avoid sexual contact until all of your symptoms resolve.
Even if your symptoms are gone, some experts recommend waiting one week after treatment before engaging in sexual activity. To avoid getting re-infected, you should abstain from sexual activity until your partner is adequately treated, too.

If you are a woman, you should be retested three months after treatment to make sure the infection is gone and that you weren’t reinfected by a partner who wasn’t adequately treated.

It is important to notify your sexual partners if you suspect you have or if you have been diagnosed with trichomoniasis; your current partner(s) need treatment, too. This is important to prevent re-infection, especially given that they may not develop the same symptoms, if they show any symptoms at all. In some states, partners can be treated without being tested or seen by a provider.

Is trichomoniasis curable?

Yes! Trichomoniasis, when treated with the right prescription medications, is fully curable. Remember, even if you show no symptoms (which most people do not), you could still be infected. For this reason, you’ll want to see your treatment through to the end. Prematurely ending your treatment regimen can prolong your time dealing with the disease.

How long does it take to cure Trichomoniasis?

Generally, it takes about 7-10 days to fully cure a trichomoniasis infection. You’ll want to abstain from sexual activity during this period and only resume once you and your partner have tested negative.

How will trichomoniasis affect my pregnancy?

While trichomoniasis can be passed to a baby during birth, this is rare. However, pregnant women with trichomoniasis are more likely to deliver early or to have babies with low birth weights.

It is recommended that pregnant women with trichomoniasis symptoms and women with HIV be tested for trichomoniasis. It is not included in routine prenatal testing. If you are treated for trichomoniasis during your pregnancy and you are sexually active or HIV+, your doctor will want to retest you in three months to make sure the infection is gone.

How do I get tested for trichomoniasis?

Getting tested for trichomoniasis involves a simple urine test. If your test shows that you are infected with trichomoniasis, you’ll want to consider getting tested for other sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, as having trichomoniasis makes it easier to contract and spread HIV. Because of this, and because many STDs have similar symptoms, Priority STD Testing offers panel testing options to cover multiple bases at once. Results are typically available in just 24-72 hours.

Can I take an at-home trichomoniasis test?

While there are at-home testing options for trichomoniasis, be warned that administering a test yourself can certainly affect the accuracy of your results. Be wary of at-home options that are not approved by the FDA. Though many brands will claim to be just as accurate as any other option, the truth is you simply don’t know what you’re getting. In addition, in using a self-administered testing kit, directions can sometimes be unclear which can lessen your chances of an accurate reading. The best case when it comes to accurate trichomoniasis testing is to find a reputable STD testing service and let the experts handle the process start to finish.

What if I have additional questions?

If you have questions about the trichomoniasis testing process, or are wondering if you should get tested, contact one of our Priority STD Testing care counselors. They’ll be able assist you in finding the right tests, understanding your results, and planning for future steps to get you back on the path to wellness.

Medically reviewed by Amy Cyr MD
Reviewed on 12/21/2021

Trichomoniasis Symptoms in Men and Women

Trichomoniasis Symptoms in Women
  • Vaginal discharge (which may be frothy, have a fishy odor, and be white, yellow, green, or gray in color)
  • Painful urination or intercourse
  • Redness, burning, itching, or swelling of the vulva
Trichomoniasis Symptoms in Men
  • Discharge from the urethra
  • Painful urination
  • Burning after ejaculation
  • Irritation or itching inside the penis

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