What is trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis is a common sexually transmitted disease (STD) that is spread through sexual contact with the penis or vagina of an infected individual.
What causes trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis is caused by infection with a protozoan parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis (1).
What are the symptoms of trichomoniasis?
Only approximately 30% of infected individuals show symptoms with the majority remaining asymptomatic (2). Some individuals show symptoms 5 to 28 days post-exposure, while symptoms occur in others much later, or symptoms may disappear then reappear (3).
Symptoms in males can include:
- Itching or irritation inside the penis
- Painful burning sensation after urination or ejaculation
- Increased urination
- Abnormal discharge from the penis
Symptoms in females can include:
- Itching or irritation of the vagina
- Painful and more frequent urination
- Endocervical bleeding
- Abnormal vaginal discharge with an unpleasant odor
Trichomoniasis infections are associated with an increased risk of contracting other STDs, particularly a 2- to 3-fold increased risk of HIV (2).
Who is at risk of trichomoniasis?
Any sexually active individual is at risk of trichomoniasis. Factors that are associated with a higher prevalence of trichomoniasis in the United States include increased poverty level, lower educational level, and unmarried status (4).
How is trichomoniasis diagnosed?
Modern nucleic acid amplification testing (NAAT) provides the most sensitivity and specificity for a trichomoniasis diagnosis. These can be performed on vaginal swabs (either clinician- or patient-collected) or urine.
How is trichomoniasis treated?
Prescription antibiotics are an effective treatment for trichomoniasis. Repeat infections from sexual contact with an infected partner are common; hence treatment of all sexual partners should occur at the same time.
1. Soper D (2004). “Trichomoniasis: under control or undercontrolled?” Am J Obstet Gynecol. 190(1), 281-90.
2. Trichomoniasis Fact Sheet. CDC. Feb 2020.
3. Satterwhite CL, et al. (2013). Sexually transmitted infections among US women and men: Prevalence and incidence estimates, 2008. Sex Transm Dis, 40(3), 187-193.
4. 2015 Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines, Trichomoniasis. CDC. June, 2015.