Trichomoniasis (aka. Trich)

What is it?

This infec­tion is caused by tiny par­a­sites that make their home in warm, moist places in the human body, par­tic­u­lar­ly the vagi­na. In fact, mil­lions of peo­ple across North Amer­i­ca have this par­a­site. Because they can live for sev­er­al hours in body flu­ids that have been left on cloth­ing, bed sheets, or tow­els, it’s pos­si­ble to become infect­ed by putting your gen­i­tals in con­tact with these items. How­ev­er, most cas­es of trich are trans­mit­ted between peo­ple by gen­i­tal-to-gen­i­tal con­tact. If you’ve been infect­ed, symp­toms will usu­al­ly show up in one to four weeks.

What should I be look­ing for?

In female gen­i­tals, the most com­mon symp­tom is a foamy, foul-smelling vagi­nal dis­charge that’s white or green­ish-yel­low in col­or. The dis­charge often caus­es the vul­va and vagi­na to become red and itchy. In some cas­es trich extends to the cervix, ure­thra, and blad­der. Some peo­ple will have a burn­ing sen­sa­tion when they uri­nate (pee) or will find pen­e­tra­tion painful dur­ing sex. Oth­ers will have no symp­toms at all.

Infect­ed male gen­i­tals often don’t have any symp­toms. For those that do, the tip of the penis may be itchy or irri­tat­ed, and the ure­thra may emit a slight­ly smelly dis­charge. Untreat­ed, trich can spread through the ure­thra into the tes­ti­cles, blad­der, and prostate gland, and cause complications.

How do I get tested?

At a clin­ic or health care provider’s office, a swab is tak­en from the vagi­na. The swab is placed on a slide, which is then put under a micro­scope. This test is not as reli­able for ure­thral (penis) swab samples.

Can I get rid of it?

Yes. You’ll be pre­scribed anti-par­a­sitic med­ica­tions. Don’t have sex with any­one until you’ve fin­ished tak­ing them. When the med­ica­tions are fin­ished, the trich will be gone. It’s impor­tant to have your part­ner treat­ed at the same time so you don’t become re-infect­ed the next time you have sex together.