What is it?
Trichomoniasis is caused by a tiny parasite called Trichomonas Vaginalis (TV).
In women, the parasite generally infects the vagina and urethra (tube that carries urine). In men, the infection usually affects the urethra; the head of the penis or prostate gland (a gland near the bladder that helps to produce semen) can also be infected.
The parasite can be passed on by having unprotected sex (sex without a condom). It can also be passed on by sharing sex toys if they have not been washed or covered with a new condom before use.
Trichomoniasis is not thought to be passed on by:
- kissing or hugging
- oral or anal sex
- sharing cups, plates or cutlery
- toilet seats
How will I know I have got it?
Symptoms of trichomoniasis will normally develop within a month of infection. Up to half of infected people will have no symptoms at all.
Symptoms of trichomoniasis are similar to those of other sexually transmitted infections which can therefore make it to diagnose.
Women can have the following symptoms:
- vaginal discharge that may be thick, thin or frothy and a yellowy-green colour
- producing more discharge than unusual; may also have an unpleasant fishy smell
- soreness, swelling and itching around the vaginal areas – sometimes the inner thighs may also itch
- pain or discomfort when having sex or weeing
Men can have the following symptoms:
- pain when weeing or ejaculating
- needing to wee more frequently than usual
- a thin white discharge from the penis
- balantis (soreness, inflammation and redness around the head of the penis)
Complications due to trichomoniasis are rare. Some infected women may be at an increased risk of further problems. If infected whilst pregnant, the infection may cause their baby to be either:
- born prematurely (before the 37th week of pregnancy), and/or
- have a low birth weight.
Trichomoniasis is diagnosed by examining of the genitals and doing a laboratory test on a swab taken from the penis or vagina. If the test shows infection, it’s important that the current sexual partner and any other recent partners are also tested and treated.