Trichomoniasis: symptoms, causes and treatment

Trichomoniasis: symptoms, causes and treatment


Trichomoniasis represents a common sexually transmitted infection that is caused by the flagellated parasitic protozoan agent Trichomonas vaginalis.


Symptoms include inflammatory vaginitis in women as well as urethritis in men, albeit asymptomatic cases are not rare.


What Are Symptoms of Trichomoniasis?


Up to 85% of women who get trichomoniasis may be asymptomatic; though most eventually develop symptoms. Symptoms of trichomoniasis in women can range from mild to severe and may include:


Puss-filled thin discharge with a foul odor (may appear green-yellow and frothy)

  • Burning
  • Itching
  • Soreness
  • Pain or discomfort when urinating
  • Urinary frequency
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Painful sexual intercourse
  • Bleeding after sex
  • Symptoms may be worse during menstruation
  • Vulvar redness
  • Preterm delivery, and delivery of a low birth weight infant in pregnant women



Babies born to mothers who have trichomoniasis may become infected during delivery.


Symptoms of trichomoniasis in newborns include:

ALSO READ: Itching after sex? What you should know



  • Fever
  • Respiratory problems
  • Urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Nasal discharge
  • Vaginal discharge


Symptoms of trichomoniasis in men include:

  • Clear or mucusy penile discharge
  • Pain or discomfort when urinating
  • Mild itching or burning sensation in the penis after sexual intercourse
  • T. vaginalis in men has also been associated with prostatitis; balanoposthitis; epididymitis; infertility; as well as prostate cancer in men





It is caused by the protozoan Trichomonas vaginalis that is passed from person-to-person during sex.

Men can transmit the parasite from their penis to a woman’s vagina, and also a woman can transmit the infection from her vagina to a penis.

It can also spread vagina to vagina; though it is not common for the infection to spread to other body parts such as the mouth or anus.


How Is Trichomoniasis Diagnosed?


It is diagnosed based on laboratory testing to confirm T. vaginalis:

  • Motile trichomonads on wet mount
  • Positive culture
  • Positive nucleic acid amplification test
  • Rapid antigen or nucleic acid probe test


In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends T. vaginalis screening in all HIV-infected women, annually and also at initial prenatal visits.

Screening is also considered for women who do not have HIV but are at increased risk of Trichomonas infection; such as those who have new or multiple partners or a history of sexually transmitted infections.


ALSO READ: STDs: What are they, who gets them?



What Is the Treatment for Trichomoniasis?


Trichomoniasis is treated with the following antibiotics:

  • Metronidazole
  • Tinidazole


About 20% of people who have it become infected again within 3 months after treatment.

To avoid reinfection, all sex partners of the infected person should be treated with antibiotics at the same time.


What Are Complications of Trichomoniasis?


Complications of trichomoniasis include:

  • Urethritis
  • Cystitis
  • Cervical neoplasia
  • Post-hysterectomy cuff cellulitis or abscess
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • Infertility
  • Possible increased susceptibility to acquiring HIV infection


How Do You Prevent Trichomoniasis?


The only way to avoid getting trichomoniasis as well as other STDs is avoiding vaginal, anal, or oral sex.


For people who are sexually active, reduce the risk of getting trichomoniasis:


  • Be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who does not have it or any other STDs
  • Use latex condoms every time you have sex, and also be sure to use them properly.

About The Author

Osigweh Lilian Oluchi is a graduate of the University of Lagos where she obtained a B.A (Hons) in English, Masters in Public and International affairs (MPIA). Currently works with 1stnews as a Database Manager / Writer. [email protected]

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