Trichomoniasis (or “trich”) is a very common sexually transmitted infection. It is caused by a protozoan parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. Although symptoms of the disease vary, most people who have the parasite cannot tell they are infected.
Trichomoniasis is the most common curable STI. Infection is more common in women than in men. Older women are more likely than younger women to have been infected with trichomoniasis.
The parasite passes from an infected person to an uninfected person during sex. In women, the most commonly infected part of the body is the lower genital tract (vulva, vagina, cervix, or urethra). In men, the most commonly infected body part is the inside of the penis (urethra). During sex, the parasite usually spreads from a penis to a vagina, or from a vagina to a penis. It can also spread from a vagina to another vagina. It is not common for the parasite to infect other body parts, like the hands, mouth, or anus. It is unclear why some people with the infection get symptoms while others do not. It probably depends on factors like a person’s age and overall health. Infected people without symptoms can still pass the infection on to others.
About 70% of infected people do not have any signs or symptoms. When trichomoniasis does cause symptoms, they can range from mild irritation to severe inflammation. Some people with symptoms get them within 5 to 28 days after being infected. Others do not develop symptoms until much later. Symptoms can come and go.
It is not possible to diagnose trichomoniasis based on symptoms alone. For both men and women, your health care provider can examine you and get a laboratory test to diagnose trichomoniasis.
Trichomoniasis can be treated with medication (either metronidazole or tinidazole). These pills are taken by mouth. It is safe for pregnant women to take this medication. It is not recommended to drink alcohol within.
If you are sexually active, you can do the following things to lower your chances of getting trichomoniasis: