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What are the symptoms of trichomoniasis?

Medically reviewed by Neka Miller, PhD on January 21, 2021. 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.


While a trichomoniasis infection is usually easy to treat once it’s detected, identifying and diagnosing it can be a little more challenging. If you’re wondering if you might have trichomoniasis, understanding the possible symptoms can be a good first step. Read on to discover what the symptoms of trichomoniasis are, how trichomoniasis is treated, and more.


Test for trichomoniasis from the convenience and privacy of home with the Everlywell at-home Trichomoniasis Test. The test is easy to take and the kit includes everything you need for collecting a sample at home and sending it to a lab for testing.


What is trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis, referred to as “trich” for short, is a type of sexually transmitted infection (STI) that affects millions of people every year (and is more common among women than men). It is caused by a parasite known as Trichomonas vaginalis, a type of single-celled protozoan.

How do you get trichomoniasis, and how easily does it spread? In the case of sexual contact, this parasite travels easily through sexual fluids—including semen, pre-ejaculate, and vaginal fluid.

What are the symptoms of trichomoniasis?

Part of what makes trichomoniasis so easy to spread is that it often does not present any noticeable symptoms in an infected person. Estimates suggest that roughly 7 out of 10 people who have trichomoniasis show no signs or symptoms of the infection (in other words, they are asymptomatic). Others with a trich infection have symptoms that are so mild that the symptoms are often ignored or mistaken for other conditions.

Any symptoms that do manifest in an infected person usually become noticeable between 5 and 28 days following the start of the infection. While trichomoniasis symptoms can occur in people of any biological sex, one of the most common symptoms is vaginitis, which refers to vaginal inflammation characterized by itching, burning, and general discomfort. Other possible symptoms include:

  • A vaginal discharge that may smell bad and appear white, gray, yellow, or green in color (a yellow/green color is most common)
  • Possible bloody vaginal discharge
  • Redness, swelling, and genital inflammation
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Painful sexual intercourse

Penile symptoms are much rarer, but when they do occur, they can include:

  • Irritation within the penis
  • Burning or pain when urinating or ejaculating
  • Urethral discharge
  • A frequent urge to urinate

A trichomoniasis infection may contribute to some severe complications if left untreated. For example, having trichomoniasis may make you more susceptible to being infected with HIV. Additionally, among women who already have HIV, “trich” infections are associated with pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Pregnant women who are infected with vaginal trichomoniasis may:

  • Have a premature birth
  • Deliver a baby with a low birth weight
  • Potentially transmit the infection to the baby during birth

In cases of untreated trichomoniasis, symptoms may temporarily go away on their own, but this doesn’t mean that the infection has been eliminated from the body: you may experience symptoms again later on, and you may transmit the infection during sexual intercourse. Taking a trichomoniasis test can help you find out if you have this infection.

Diagnosing and treating trichomoniasis

As the symptoms of trichomoniasis can be easily mistaken for other conditions, receiving a proper diagnosis is key for getting the right treatment. There are a variety of tests that can be used to identify the presence of the parasite responsible for the trich infection, including an at-home trichomoniasis test kit that comes with everything you need to collect a sample from the convenience of home and send it to a lab for testing. (Related: Trichomoniasis vs. yeast infection)

Once it’s identified, trichomoniasis can typically be easily treated and cured with antibiotics. Your healthcare provider may alternately prescribe smaller doses of an antibiotic taken over several days.

If you do receive a diagnosis and treatment for trichomoniasis, it’s important that your sexual partner(s) also get tested for infection. Otherwise, you might get reinfected or the infection may continue to spread to other people.


Trichomoniasis vs. BV (bacterial vaginosis)


References

1. Trichomoniasis - CDC Fact Sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. URL. Accessed January 21, 2021.

2. Meites E. Trichomoniasis: the "neglected" sexually transmitted disease. Infect Dis Clin North Am. 2013;27(4):755-764.