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The ABCs of Trichomoniasis

By HERWriter
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Trichomoniasis related image Photo: Getty Images

Trichomoniasis is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and fortunately, it’s curable. Also called trich, it affects both men and women. Trich is caused by a parasite called trichomonas vaginalis. It is spread through sexual intercourse, sharing sex toys, and masturbation if fluids are passed between the genitals. Very rarely, it can be spread by wet towels and bathing suits as trichomonas flourish in moist, warm conditions. Some say it can be spread by toilet seats; others say that’s not possible. However, most agree that the parasite can’t survive long on objects and surfaces.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are an estimated 7.4 million new trichomoniasis cases each year in the United States.

While men get trichomoniasis, they hardly ever experience symptoms. They usually don’t know they have it until their female partner finds out. Women with trichomoniasis often have no symptoms. But for many, there are several signs and symptoms.

These include a frothy greenish-yellow vaginal discharge that has a strong, fishy odor. There can also be blood spotting in the discharge. Some women have pain during sexual intercourse, have the urge to frequently urinate or have pain and burning during urination. They can experience vaginal itching and irritation. In rare cases, there can be lower abdominal pain.

The vaginal irritation caused by trichomoniasis can make women more susceptible to getting HIV if exposed to it. In pregnant women, trichomoniasis can cause premature birth or low-birth weight.

Trich is not something to self-diagnose. A doctor needs to perform an exam and lab tests whether or not there are symptoms.

Trichomoniasis can usually be cured with prescription oral antibiotics. Don’t bother with topical creams, gels or ointments as they don’t work.

Sexual partners should be treated together to prevent reinfection and further spread of trichomoniasis. In addition, they should avoid sex until the treatment is over and they have no more symptoms.

Unfortunately, having trichomoniasis once isn’t a guarantee a person won’t get it again. Even after a successful treatment, men and women are still susceptible to another bout of trich.

As with most STDs, it’s better to prevent trich than have the need to treat it. The only way to absolutely prevent trichomoniasis is sexual abstinence. Following that, limit sexual contact to just one uninfected partner. Another way to try to prevent spreading trich is by properly using a female or latex condom during any type of sexual intercourse.


Reviewed June 6, 2011
Edited by Alison Stanton

Add a Comment4 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

I am in a situation and need advice. I have been with my husband for 11 years. He was always accusing me of cheating, with everyone you can imagine. It caused fights all the time. I have never cheated on him, however, we separated several times and he would sleep with other women during those times he claims....So lately, past year, he was more distant, not having time to conversate with me, if he was off from work he wanted to hang out with neighbors or "friends". He became super critical, verbally and emotionally abusive to the point where I couldn't take anymore...I noticed something on the outside of my vajayjay and asked him...he told me it was a hair bump, don't worry. About two weeks later, it had become swollen, leaking blood and very painful. We had a serious argument where he called me things he had never done in past, feelings got hurt and I left....four days later I had a nervous breakdown and was admitted to a hospital for five days....on the fifth day they released me but told me before I walked out that I had trich....I hadn't talked to him, don't want to and won't now...when he got paperwork from hospital he flipped out, of course accusing me to my mom and friends....they know better....I don't even like sex, just did it so he would shut up...Of course, he says its my fault, I was a whore on the way to my moms and he doesn't have it....he is egotistical so I know he didn't get checked. I'm pretty sure he was cheating....why else would he still be trying to contact me wanting me to come home???? I'm hurt and confused. His mother can't stand me and filed a divorce...all the while he is calling my mom and leaving messages that he loves me and doesn't want a divorce....he wants to work things out etc...what is going on? If he really thought I gave it to him, why in the hell would he want me back?
His mother mailed divorce papers and I should be getting them...She wants a divorce cuz he is paying insurance through his job for me and she is a hateful bitch. His fault though cuz he told her all kinds of lies over the years about me. I'm signing divorce papers asap....He has put me at risk healthwise and how could I ever trust or forgive him? I'm devastated.

May 25, 2012 - 12:59am

Hi Anon,

I'm a little confused-- so I'll try to see if I understood you correctly. You had irritation in the past and attributed it to BV, so you tried OTC Vagistat and it didn't go away so you went to Planned Parenthood where you were diagnosed and treated for Trich? Correct? Your first question is whether or not you had it long enough to have given it to your now Ex-boyfriend? Yes, it is possible to have Trichomoniasis and not know about it because many times symptoms go ignored or are confused for something else-- like how you thought it was BV.

How long ago were you treated for Trich? Did you have a follow-up to make sure that it was completely gone? If not, you may want to go back to planned parenthood to make sure that you no longer have it and if you have not finished your treatment you shouldn't be having any sexual contact until it is 100% gone. If you still have Trich, please make sure that you tell the guy that you had penis to vagina contact with because he will need to be treated as well.
Once you have been cleared from Trich or any other STDs then you should definitely consider using condoms to not only protect from pregnancy but from other STDs as well. It isn't worth putting your or someone else's health at risk.

Good Luck,


July 7, 2011 - 11:53am
EmpowHER Guest

Not sure where to start I have so many concerns...I have been having some irritation off and on for months it seems like. I have BV a few years ago and didn't know it. So I thought this was it or yeast which a cream could be used. So I would use cream and the problems would go away. This april I started to notice an irritation so bad so I bought an over counter vagistat-1 thinking it was a yeast infection so the symptoms when away. Then about two weeks later the symptoms came bk. Btw I have no health insurance so I finally made an appt at planned parenthood and they told me I had trich. I was having un protected sex for about two months with no issues then all of a
sudden I had this intense burning told my bf and he said he had been having a little pain too so I just figured since I had unprotected sex in the past and the hx I just figured someone gave it to me then I gave it to him...is it possible to have it so long and not know...well I met someone else we did not have sex but we did have penis-vaginal contact then a day later he told me right after it was sore. But I thought I was cured prior bc of my medication and I rarely had any issues. Could he have it too and could he have gotten it with symptoms so fast. I'm worried about telling him would like some advice on my approach...please help soon

July 6, 2011 - 5:40pm
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