Trichomoniasis is a sexually-transmitted disease caused by a parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. The parasite is passed from one person to another during sex, and it infects the lower genital tract in women and the inside of the penis in men. The parasite does not commonly infect other parts of the body such as the mouth or anus.
Only about 30 percent of those infected with the parasite develop symptoms. Women might experience itching, burning, redness and soreness of the genitals, have difficulty urinating and have a clear, white, yellow or green discharge from the vagina with an unusual odor. Men might feel itching and burning inside the penis, burning after they urinate or ejaculate and might have discharge from the penis. For those who experience symptoms, sex is very unpleasant.
It’s not clear why some people get symptoms and why others don’t. Women are more likely to get trichomoniasis than men, and older women are more susceptible than younger women. Pregnant women with trichomoniasis have a higher risk of delivering a premature or a low-weight baby.
Using condoms during sex can help prevent trichomoniasis infection, but the only way to prevent infection entirely is to abstain from having sex with another person.
Trichomoniasis is considered the most curable sexually-transmitted disease. A single dose of metronidazole or tinidazole by mouth will cure the disease. However, anyone who is infected can pass it to another person during sex, even if the person does not experience any symptoms. If your sex partners have the disease and don’t know it because they don’t have any symptoms, you can become reinfected by having sex with them. About 20 percent of those treated for trichomoniasis become reinfected within three months. If left untreated, trichomoniasis can last for months or even years.
Anonymous Trichomoniasis Test
You can’t diagnose a trichomoniasis infection by your symptoms. There is a laboratory test that must be performed to determine if you have the disease. If you go to your doctor and you test positive for trichomoniasis, the doctor must report your name and other personal information to the state health department. To get an anonymous trichomoniasis test, follow the instructions in our free guide to anonymous STD testing.
For more information, read the CDC Fact Sheet on trichomoniasis.