Trichomoniasis symptoms in men and women

Medically reviewed by Neka Miller, PhD on May 15, 2020. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.


Trichomoniasis, or “trich” as it is popularly called, might not be as well-known of a sexually transmitted infection (STI or STD) compared to chlamydia and herpes. But it’s still one of the most common STDs in men and women—so read on to learn more about trichomoniasis: what it is, common symptoms in men and women, long-term health effects, and more.

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What is trichomoniasis?

A non-bacterial, non-viral parasite is responsible for trichomoniasis. You can develop the infection by having vaginal sex with an infected person. A man can give a woman trichomoniasis, and vice versa. “Trich” is more common in women compared to men, but anyone who’s sexually active is at risk.

The bodily location of this sexually transmitted infection depends on whether you’re a man or a woman. Men can get trichomoniasis in the urethra (the tube that removes urine from the body). This can cause an itchy urethra in males. On the other hand, in women the infection typically presents itself in the lower genital tract (including the cervix, vagina, vulva, and/or urethra). Fortunately, trichomoniasis is easy to treat in the vast majority of cases, so symptoms can be effectively eliminated.

What are trichomoniasis symptoms in men and women?

Like several other STDS (such as asymptomatic herpes), trichomoniasis doesn’t always occur with noticeable symptoms: only about 30% of people with an infection experience symptoms.

However, if symptoms do occur, they can cause mild to severe discomfort. The onset of trichomoniasis symptoms can vary. For example, some people notice signs of the infection within 4 to 28 days of exposure, but others may not notice them until later. Additionally, the symptoms can come and go over time.

If you’re a man with trichomoniasis, you may notice:

  • Burning after ejaculation or urination
  • Abnormal discharge from the penis
  • Genital itching or irritation

For women, trichomoniasis symptoms can include:

  • Genital inflammation, including burning, itching, redness, or soreness
  • Discomfort during urination
  • Changes in the amount, color, and scent of vaginal discharge

It’s important to note that, for women, symptoms of trichomoniasis can be similar to those associated with bacterial vaginosis. To determine if the cause of your symptoms is due to an STD like “trich,” you can take an at-home trichomoniasis test or a comprehensive STD test for women.


Untreated trichomoniasis in men and women: long-term health effects

Because trichomoniasis often causes no observable symptoms (especially in men), the infection can go undetected for months or years. Similar to untreated chlamydia in men and women, this STD can negatively affect one’s health if it isn’t detected and treated. For example:

  • Having untreated trichomoniasis can increase your risk of getting and spreading other STDs, including HIV.
  • In a pregnant woman, a trichomoniasis infection can cause preterm delivery and low birth weight in newborns.

Testing for STDs like trichomoniasis can help you get prompt diagnosis and treatment if you do get an infection—which is why routine screening is important for protecting your sexual health.

Diagnosing trichomoniasis

If you have symptoms of this STD, speak with your healthcare provider to learn what steps to take next. Depending on their evaluation, your healthcare provider may recommend that you get tested for trichomoniasis and/or other STDs.

You can get tested in a clinic or at home. If you prefer the home option, try the Everlywell at-home Trichomoniasis Test or the STD Test for men or women. The Everlywell Trichomoniasis Test requires only a urine sample that you send to a lab using the prepaid shipping label included with the kit. You’ll get your results on our secure, online platform—which you can share with your healthcare provider.

Once you have a diagnosis, treatment for a trichomoniasis infection is typically done with oral medications—which may cure the infection and eliminate your symptoms.

Can you get reinfected with trichomoniasis?

It’s possible to get this infection more than once. In fact, about 20% of people will get reinfected within three months of receiving treatment. However, there are several ways to avoid getting this STD again.

  • If you and/or your sexual partner is receiving treatment for trichomoniasis, wait until the recommended course of medication has been completed before having sex again.
  • Use protection (like a latex condom) whenever you have sex. This can reduce your risk of contracting a “trich” infection and other STDs.

If you’re concerned that you could have this STD, consider getting tested with the at-home Trichomoniasis Test or the STD Test for men or women.


References

1. Trichomoniasis - CDC Fact Sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. URL. Accessed May 15, 2020.

2. Trichomoniasis - Diagnosis and Treatment. Mayo Clinic. URL. Accessed May 15, 2020.

3. Trichomoniasis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. URL. Accessed May 15, 2020.

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