Planned Parenthood

Trichomoniasis (Trich)

Planned Parenthood STD Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis at a Glance

  • Often called "trich"
  • A sexually transmitted infection
  • Often has no symptoms
  • Easily treated
  • Condoms reduce your risk of infection

More than half of us get a sexually transmitted infection at some point in our lives. But we can protect ourselves and each other from sexually transmitted infections like trichomoniasis. Learning more about trichomoniasis is an important first step.

Here are some of the most common questions we hear people ask about trichomoniasis. We hope you find the answers helpful, whether you think you may have trichomoniasis, have been diagnosed with it, or are just curious about it.

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What Is Trichomoniasis?

You may have heard of trichomoniasis, or "trich," but many people are not sure what it is. Trichomoniasis (trick-oh-mo-NEYE-ah-sis) is an infection caused by a protozoan — a microscopic, one-cell animal called a trichomona. Trichomoniasis is often called "trich." More than eight million Americans are infected with trich every year.

Trich is one of the most common causes of vaginitis.

What Are the Symptoms of Trichomoniasis?

Often, trichomoniasis has no symptoms. Most people are not aware that they have the infection — especially men.

When women have symptoms, they may have

  • frothy, often unpleasant-smelling discharge
  • blood spotting in the discharge
  • itching in and around the vagina
  • swelling in the groin
  • the urge to urinate frequently — often with pain and burning

Men rarely have symptoms. When they do have symptoms, they may have

  • discharge from the urethra
  • the urge to urinate frequently — often with pain and burning

If symptoms develop, it may take about 328 days.

How Can I Know If I Have Trichomoniasis?

A health care provider can do tests to see if you have trichomoniasis, whether or not you have symptoms.

  • If you're a woman, your health care provider will give you a pelvic exam to take a sample of your vaginal discharge.
  • If you're a man, your health care provider will take a swab of your urethra to get a sample of the discharge.

The provider will then examine the discharge using a microscope to make a diagnosis.

Help Your Health Care Provider

There are ways women can help their health care providers diagnose trich.

  • Women should not douche, but if you do, don't douche for at least 24 hours before your appointment. Douching washes away the discharge and may make the tests less accurate.
  • Don't use a deodorant on your vulva. It may mask odors that are important symptoms. And it may make an irritation worse.
  • Don't put off going to your health care provider because you have abnormal bleeding. That might mean you have a serious problem. But if possible, try to schedule your visit for a time when you won't be having your period.
  • Don't have vaginal intercourse — or insert any object, such as a tampon, into your vagina — for 24-48 hours before your appointment.

Is There a Treatment for Trichomoniasis?

Yes, there is treatment for trichomoniasis. Both you and your partner can be successfully treated with prescription medicine.

Keep in mind that you may become infected again if your partner isn't treated. If you have more than one sexual partner, each partner (and their partners) should be treated, too.

Use condoms and avoid coming into contact with certain fluids — semen, vaginal lubrication or discharge, and menstrual flow — during treatment.

Where Can I Get a Test or Treatment for Trichomoniasis?

Staff at your local Planned Parenthood health center, many other clinics, health departments, and private health care providers can diagnose trichomoniasis and help you get any treatment you may need.

How Is Trichomoniasis Spread?

Trich is easily passed between sex partners. It is spread through vaginal intercourse, sharing sex toys, and mutual masturbation if fluids from one partner are passed to the genitals of the other.

How Can I Prevent Getting or Spreading Trichomoniasis?

There are several ways to help prevent getting trich or spreading it to other people.

  • You can abstain from vaginal and anal intercourse.
  • If you choose to have vaginal or anal intercourse, use female or latex condoms every time.

If you already have trich

  • Inform your sex partner(s) of the infection.
  • Have no sex until treatment is complete.
  • Be sure your sex partner(s) is/are tested and treated before having sex again to avoid getting trich again.
  • Once you are cured and start having sex again, use female or latex condoms every time you have vaginal intercourse.
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Trichomoniasis (Trich)