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The What, How, and Why of Trichomoniasis

Step into the hidden world of trichomoniasis, a stealthy yet quite a prevalent STI that often flies under the radar. Understanding this condition is the key to knowing how this enigmatic parasite spreads, the telltale signs it leaves behind, and the steps to shield yourself.

From its silent journey through intimate connections to the crucial methods of prevention, join us in as we explore the ‘what,’ ‘how,’ and ‘why’ of trichomoniasis, empowering you with the knowledge to safeguard your sexual health.

What is Trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a protozoan parasite, Trichomonas vaginalis. It predominantly affects the urogenital tract, often manifesting with varying degrees of trichomoniasis symptoms or remaining asymptomatic. The parasite primarily thrives in the genital tract of both men and women.

Trichomoniasis Symptoms

Trichomoniasis Symptoms in Men

  • Urethral Discomfort: Men may experience discomfort while urinating. This can range from mild irritation to a burning sensation.
  • Penile Discharge: Some men might notice an unusual discharge from the penis. This could vary in color, often appearing clear, white, yellow, or greenish.
  • Genital Irritation: Itching or irritation in the genital area could be present, although this trichomoniasis symptom might not always be noticeable.
  • Asymptomatic Cases: Notably, a significant portion of men infected with trichomoniasis might not exhibit any visible symptoms, making it crucial for regular STI screenings, especially after unprotected sexual encounters.

Trichomoniasis Symptoms in Women

  • Vaginal Discharge: Women might experience a distinct change in vaginal discharge. It could be frothy, greenish, yellow, or grey with an unpleasant odor.
  • Vaginal Itching/Irritation: Irritation or itching in the vaginal area might occur due to the infection.
  • Discomfort during Urination: Some women might experience pain or discomfort while urinating.
  • Asymptomatic Cases: Similar to men, many women infected with trichomoniasis might not display any noticeable trichomoniasis symptoms. Regular screenings and prompt medical attention after unprotected sexual encounters are crucial.

Trichomoniasis symptoms can vary in intensity and manifestation from person to person. Some might experience multiple symptoms, while others might remain asymptomatic. These trichomoniasis symptoms might also be mistaken for other vaginal infections, highlighting the importance of seeking professional medical advice for accurate diagnosis and timely treatment.

How Do You Get Trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis, caused by the protozoan parasite Trichomonas vaginalis, is primarily transmitted through sexual activity. This trichomonas infection is commonly passed from an infected individual to an uninfected person during unprotected sexual contact, including vaginal intercourse.

  • Sexual Transmission: The parasite resides in the genital and urinary tracts of both men and women. Through direct contact with these infected areas, the parasite transfers to a new host.
  • Multiple Routes of Transmission: Transmission occurs through contact with bodily fluids, such as vaginal secretions in women or pre-ejaculate or semen in men, leading to the exchange of the parasite.
  • Asymptomatic Carriers: One significant challenge in preventing the spread of trichomoniasis is that some infected individuals might not display any visible symptoms. As a result, they can unknowingly transmit the infection to their sexual partners.
  • Non-Sexual Transmission: While less common, it’s also possible for Trichomonas vaginalis to be transmitted non-sexually, such as from contaminated objects like damp towels, undergarments, or shared personal items. However, sexual transmission remains the primary mode of infection.

Trichomoniasis Treatment

Trichomoniasis treatment typically involves prescription medications, and it’s crucial to follow the recommended course to ensure the complete eradication of the parasite.


  • Metronidazole: This antibiotic is the primary trichomoniasis treatment. It’s usually prescribed as a single, larger dose or as a shorter course of smaller doses. Alcohol should be avoided during treatment with metronidazole, as it can cause adverse reactions.
  • Tinidazole: Similar to metronidazole, tinidazole is another antibiotic effective against Trichomonas vaginalis. It’s also available as a single large dose or a shorter course of smaller doses.

Partner Treatment

  • It’s important for both sexual partners to undergo treatment simultaneously, even if one partner is not displaying trichomoniasis symptoms. This approach helps prevent reinfection and further transmission.


  • After completion of the prescribed treatment, a follow-up visit might be recommended to ensure the trichomonas infection has cleared. It’s essential to confirm the success of the trichomoniasis treatment and address any persisting symptoms or concerns.

Alternative Considerations

  • In certain cases, if an individual experiences side effects or has an allergy to the primary prescribed medications, the healthcare provider might suggest alternative treatments.

Additional Recommendations

  • Abstain from Sexual Activity: It’s advisable to abstain from sexual activity until both partners have completed the trichomoniasis treatment and received confirmation of clearance from the infection.
  • Preventive Measures: Practicing safe sex, using condoms correctly and consistently, and limiting the number of sexual partners are crucial in preventing re-infection or the acquisition of new infections.
  • Regular Screening: After completing treatment, regular STI screenings are important, especially after engaging in unprotected sexual activity or if there’s a chance of re-exposure.

How Can I Prevent Trichomoniasis?

Prevention from this STI involves adopting a series of proactive measures to minimize the risk of transmission.

Safe Sexual Practices

  • Consistent Condom Use: Proper and consistent use of condoms during sexual activity can significantly reduce the risk of contracting trichomoniasis. However, while condoms are highly effective in preventing many STIs, they might not cover all potentially infected areas.
  • Mutual Monogamy: Being in a mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and is uninfected can reduce the risk of contracting trichomoniasis. It’s important to ensure both partners have been screened for STIs.

Regular Testing

  • Routine STI Screenings: Regular screenings for sexually transmitted infections, especially after engaging in unprotected sex or if there’s a change in sexual partners, are essential. Early detection allows for prompt treatment and reduces the risk of further transmission.

Partner Treatment

  • Simultaneous Treatment: If diagnosed with trichomoniasis, it’s crucial for both partners to undergo treatment simultaneously, even if one or both partners are asymptomatic. Treating both partners prevents reinfection and further spread of the infection.

Hygiene Practices

  • Personal Hygiene: Maintaining good personal hygiene by regularly washing and cleaning the genital area can contribute to reducing the risk of infections. Avoiding shared personal items, especially damp towels or undergarments, can also be a preventive measure.

Awareness and Education

  • Understanding Symptoms: Familiarize yourself with the trichomoniasis symptoms to recognize any potential signs of trichomonas infection. Seeking medical advice promptly upon observing symptoms or after potential exposure is crucial for timely diagnosis and treatment.


Understanding the symptoms, transmission, and trichomoniasis treatment is key to promoting sexual health and well-being. If you suspect you might have contracted this infection or have any concerns about your sexual health, seeking professional medical advice is crucial.

At Manhattan Medical Arts, our dedicated team is committed to providing comprehensive care, including trichomoniasis tests, treatment, and guidance, ensuring your health and comfort.

Frequently Asked Questions

How common is trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

How is trichomoniasis spread?

Trichomoniasis spreads through sexual contact, primarily vaginal intercourse.

Is trichomoniasis a serious disease?

While it’s not typically life-threatening, untreated trichomoniasis can lead to complications and affect reproductive health.

How is trichomoniasis transmitted?

Trichomoniasis is transmitted through contact with infected genital areas during sexual activity.

How can you get trichomoniasis if no one cheats?

Trichomoniasis can be contracted through previous partners, as it might not cause immediate symptoms or might remain dormant for a while.

How long does trichomoniasis last?

Untreated trichomoniasis can persist for months or years, causing ongoing discomfort and health risks.

Does trichomoniasis have a smell?

Yes, trichomoniasis can cause a distinct, often foul-smelling vaginal discharge in women.

– Disclaimer –
This blog is for informational & educational purposes only, and does not intend to substitute any professional medical advice or consultation. For any health related concerns, please consult with your physician, or call 911.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed by Dr. Syra Hanif, M.D. on 11/10/2023

Learn more about our editorial process.

  • About The Author

    Dr. Syra Hanif M.D.

    Board Certified Primary Care Physician

Dr. Syra Hanif is a board-certified Primary Care Physician (PCP) dedicated to providing compassionate, patient-centered healthcare.

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