What Is Trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis (often called "trich") is a sexually transmitted disease (STD).

What Are STDs?

STDs (also called sexually transmitted infections or STIs) are infections that spread through sex (vaginal, oral, or anal). Some STDs can spread through close contact with the genitals or body fluids.

How Do People Get Trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis (trik-uh-muh-NYE-uh-siss) spreads between men and women through vaginal sex. Women can spread trich to other women through sexual contact. Men do not usually get trich from other men.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Trichomoniasis?

Many people with trich have no symptoms. They can spread the infection to others without knowing it.

In females, symptoms can include:

  • vaginal discharge, which can smell bad
  • itching, redness, and tenderness in or around the vagina
  • pain when peeing
  • pain during sex
  • bleeding after sex

In males, symptoms can include:

  • discharge from the penis
  • pain or burning when peeing
  • discomfort after ejaculation

What Causes Trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis is caused by a parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis.

How Is Trichomoniasis Diagnosed?

To find out if someone has trich, health care providers do tests on:

  • discharge taken from the vagina or cervix (opening to the womb) in girls
  • discharge taken from the urethra in guys
  • pee

How Is Trichomoniasis Treated?

Health care providers treat trichomoniasis with an antibiotic. All sexual partners from the past 2 months need treatment too, even if they don't have signs of trichomoniasis. 

People can get trichomoniasis again if:

  • their partners aren't treated
  • they get treated but then have sex with someone else who has trichomoniasis

What Problems Can Happen?

Females who don't get treatment for trichomoniasis have a greater chance of:

  • fertility problems (trouble getting pregnant)
  • developing cervical cancer
  • getting HIV if they have sex with someone who has HIV

Males who don't get treatment for trichomoniasis have a greater chance of:

  • swelling and irritation of the tubes at the back of the testicles
  • swelling and irritation in the prostate
  • fertility problems (trouble getting a woman pregnant)
  • developing prostate cancer

Can Trichomoniasis Be Prevented?

The only way to prevent trichomoniasis and other STDs is to not have sex (oral, vaginal, or anal). If someone decides to have sex, using a latex condom every time can prevent most STDs.

Anyone who is sexually active should get tested for STDs every year,  or more often if recommended by their health care provider.

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2020 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.

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