- Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by a parasite.
- It can be passed on during unprotected sex or from sharing damp towels.
- Symptoms include vaginal or penile discharge and pain urinating.
- Trichomoniasis is treated with antibiotics.
- All recent sexual partners should receive treatment.
What is trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a parasite called trichomonas vaginalis. In Australia, it is more common in people from regional and remote areas and less common in urban areas. Trichomoniasis can affect females and males.
How can I catch trichomoniasis?
You usually catch trichomoniasis during unprotected vaginal sex with an infected partner. You can also catch it by sharing wet towels, as the parasite can live on these for a few hours. You can’t catch trichomoniasis from contact with toilet seats.
What are the symptoms of trichomoniasis?
You may have no symptoms, especially if you’re male.
If you have symptoms, they may start about 4 to 28 days after being infected, and include:
- frothy or smelly yellow or green vaginal discharge
- vaginal itching or burning
- pain during sex
- bleeding after sex or when urinating
Males don't usually get symptoms, but there may be penile discharge, or pain urinating.
Even if you don’t have symptoms, you can still pass the infection to partners.
How will I be diagnosed with trichomoniasis?
Your doctor can send you for a urine test, or take a sample of discharge from inside your vagina.
Your doctor may recommend testing for other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
How is trichomoniasis treated?
You can treat trichomoniasis with either a single large dose of antibiotics, or a longer course over a few days.
You shouldn’t have any sexual contact until 7 days after treatment. Your current and recent sexual partners should be tested and treated too, even if they have no symptoms.
If your symptoms don’t go away after treatment, talk to your doctor or sexual health clinic.
Without treatment, trichomoniasis can continue for months, or even years. If you have trichomoniasis when you’re pregnant, you can pass it to your baby. This can cause complications including premature labour, pre-term delivery or low birth weight. If you have HIV, it can also increase the risk of passing it to your baby.
How can I prevent trichomoniasis?
The best way to avoid trichomoniasis is to use a condom every time you have vaginal, oral or anal sex. Safe sex also helps protect you from other STIs.
To prevent re-infection with trichomoniasis, make sure any sexual partner has treatment too. Avoid having sex with any partners from the last 6 months until 7 days after they’ve been tested and treated.
Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.
Last reviewed: July 2022