Trichomoniasis is a vaginal infection in women and a urethral infection in men caused by a microscopic organism. Trichomoniasis is usually transmitted through sexual intercourse. An estimated five million cases occur each year in the United States. Frequently, this infection causes no symptoms, especially in men. It is, therefore, not unusual for a man or a woman to be unknowingly infected with this organism for months or sometimes even years.

Symptoms in Women

  • Increased vaginal discharge. Discharge may be gray or white, watery and foamy with an unusual odor.
  • Itching, burning, irritation, redness and swelling of external genitalia.
  • Burning or pain with urination and increased frequency of urination.
  • Pain or discomfort with intercourse.

These symptoms may coincide with the start of a menstrual period.

Symptoms in Men

  • Burning or tingling during urination.
  • Pus or watery discharge from the penis.

Symptoms usually appear 5 to 28 days after exposure. The trichomoniasis organism is usually transmitted through sexual intercourse. Transmission by non-sexual means may rarely occur.

How do I get tested for Trichomoniasis?

The organism causing trichomoniasis is easily seen under a microscope. Sometimes, however, no organism is found in the sample of discharge, even though the infection may be present. Since trichomoniasis frequently occurs with other STIs, clinicians usually advise testing for other infections when someone is diagnosed with trichomoniasis.

What happens if I have Trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis is curable. The most effective medication in treating trichiomoniasis is oral Metronidazole (usually Flagyl® or Metryl®) and is given either in one large dose or in several smaller doses taken for one week. Use all medication prescribed even if symptoms go away. If you take Metronidazole, you should not drink alcohol in any form and avoid vinegar and mayonnaise. Women should schedule an appointment after completing their medication if symptoms persist. Once cured, trichomoniasis will only recur if you are reinfected. For this reason, all sexual partners must be treated as well, and you should not have unprotected intercourse until all partners have completed their treatment.

How can I keep from getting Trichomoniasis?

Abstinence (not having intercourse) virtually eliminates the risk of being infected with trichomoniasis.

If you are having intercourse, consistent condom use (every time, start to finish) provides significant protection from trichomoniasis as well as other STIs.

Limiting the number of sexual partners you have in your lifetime decreases the likelihood of STI exposure.

Recognize that you can make these choices to stay healthier and happier!


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This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. This information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.