What is trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis is an infection caused by a tiny parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. It usually spreads during sex, but can also be spread by sharing wet towels or washers.
Trichomoniasis mostly affects women, but men can get it too. Your doctor or sexual health clinic can test for and treat trichomoniasis.
What are the symptoms of trichomoniasis?
Many people with trichomoniasis have no symptoms.
Those who do might notice:
- a frothy or smelly discharge from the vagina that is yellow, grey or green
- vaginal itching or burning
- pain low in the tummy
- pain during sex or when urinating
Men don't usually get symptoms from trichomoniasis, but there may be a discharge from the penis, or pain when urinating.
How is trichomoniasis diagnosed?
Your doctor is likely to take a sample from inside the vagina to test for trichomoniasis. Men can be checked with a urine test or a swab from the opening of the penis.
If you have trichomoniasis, your doctor may also want to test you for other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
How is trichomoniasis treated?
Trichomoniasis is treated with antibiotics. Most people only need a single large dose, but some may need longer. It often comes back. If you have trichomoniasis, any current sexual partner should be tested and treated too, even if they don’t have any symptoms.
If your symptoms don’t go away after treatment, talk to your doctor or sexual health worker.
Without treatment, trichomoniasis can last months, or even years. If you have it when you’re pregnant, it can cause premature labour, pre-term delivery or low birth weight. It can increase the risk of getting HIV.
How is trichomoniasis prevented?
The best way to avoid trichomoniasis is by using condoms every time you have sex. Safe sex also helps stop the spread of other STIs.
To prevent re-infection with trichomoniasis, make sure any partner is treated too. It is best to avoid having sex for seven days after your or your partner's treatment to lower the chance of you both getting the infection again.
Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.
Last reviewed: March 2020