What are the symptoms of trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis is a common sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by infection with a protozoan parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. Trichomoniasis is often referred to as “trich”. It is transmitted through sexual contact with the penis or vagina of an infected individual (1).

Approximately 70% of individuals infected with trichomoniasis remain asymptomatic, meaning they don’t experience any symptoms of the infection (2). However, asymptomatic individuals can still pass the infection on to any sexual partners.

The severity of symptoms can vary significantly, ranging from just mild irritation to severe inflammation.

The onset of symptoms also varies, with some individuals showing symptoms 5 to 28 days post-exposure, while symptoms occur in others much later, or symptoms may disappear then reappear (2).

Symptoms in males can include:

  • Itching or irritation inside the penis
  • Painful burning sensation after urination or ejaculation
  • Increased urination
  • Abnormal discharge from the penis

Symptoms in females can include:

  • Itching or irritation of the vagina
  • Painful and more frequent urination
  • Endocervical bleeding
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge with an unpleasant odor

Trichomoniasis infections can cause discomfort during sexual intercourse, and are associated with an increased risk of contracting other STDs, including a two to three-fold increased risk of HIV (2).

Trichomoniasis during pregnancy also increases the risk of premature rupture of membranes, preterm delivery, and low birth weight (3), and is associated with an increased risk of the transmission of HIV from an HIV-positive mother to her child (4).

1. Soper D (2004). “Trichomoniasis: under control or undercontrolled?” Am J Obstet Gynecol. 190(1), 281-90.
2. Trichomoniasis Fact Sheet. CDC. Feb 2020.
3. 2015 Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines, Trichomoniasis. CDC. June, 2015.
4. Gumbo FZ, et al. (2010) Risk factors of HIV vertical transmission in a cohort of women under a PMTCT program at three peri-urban clinics in a resource-poor setting. J Perinatol. 67(2), 717-723. 

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