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What is trichomoniasis?

Trichomonas vaginalis is a microscopic organism that causes the disease trichomoniasis, which can be sexually transmitted from person to person.

How does someone get trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis is transmitted through vaginal sex with an infected person.

What are the risk factors for trichomoniasis?

The primary risk factors for trichomoniasis include:

  • Engaging in unsafe sex
  • Having sex with more than one partner
  • Having sex with someone who has multiple sex partners
  • How can you protect yourself from getting trichomoniasis?

The chance of becoming infected with trichomoniasis can be reduced by avoiding risky sexual behaviors.

To reduce your risk:

  • Use latex or polyurethane condoms during sex
  • Limit the number of your sex partners

If you have recently been treated or are being treated for trichomoniasis, you must make sure your sex partner(s) also receives treatment in order to prevent getting infected again. Sex partners should receive treatment even if they do not have any symptoms.

What are some symptoms of trichomoniasis?

Both men and women may be infected with trichomoniasis. Many people who are infected have no symptoms.

Symptoms in women include:

  • Unusual and increased vaginal discharge (bubbly, pale green, or gray) with an unpleasant odor
  • Itching, burning, or redness of the vulva and vagina

Symptoms in men include:

  • Discharge from the penis
  • Burning with urination

Can infection with trichomoniasis lead to other health problems?

Trichomoniasis itself is not known to lead to serious complications. However, when left untreated, it can increase the risk for acquiring or transmitting HIV infection, the virus that causes AIDS.

Heavy discharge can cause moderate skin irritation on the external genitals and inner thighs.

Trichomoniasis is associated with an increased risk of inflammation of the fallopian tubes.

What is the impact of trichomoniasis on pregnancy?

Recent evidence indicates that trichomoniasis may be associated with low birth weight in babies born to women with the infection, and with early labor and delivery in pregnant women.

How is trichomoniasis diagnosed?

Most commonly, trichomoniasis is diagnosed by examining a sample of vaginal or penile discharge under a microscope.

Is there a treatment or cure for trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis can be easily treated and cured with antibiotics—usually a one- or seven-day course of a drug called metronidazole (Flagyl). This treatment can cause side effects such as mild nausea, vomiting, and metallic taste in the mouth. Nonetheless, in order for the treatment to work it is important to take the medication as prescribed. It can also cause a bad reaction when mixed with alcohol; avoid drinking until 24 hours after you finish taking the medicine. Metronidazole should not be used during early pregnancy.

It is important to make sure your sex partner(s) also receives treatment in order to prevent getting infected again. Avoid having sex while being treated to reduce the chances of getting the infection again or transmitting it to someone else.