Trichomonas is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a small parasite.
It infects the genitals, and may also lead to infection in the vagina, urethra (the passage carrying urine from the bladder) and prostate gland.
How do I get trichomonas?
The main way to get trichomonas infection is by:
- having unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex (sex without a condom)
- sharing sex toys that aren't washed or covered with a new condom each time they're used.
Symptoms of trichomonas
Almost half of all people with trichomonas infection will have no symptoms.
If you do develop symptoms you may experience:
- a yellow or green discharge from the vagina or penis, which can sometimes have an unpleasant, ‘fishy’ smell
- genital itching and soreness which can lead to infections of the urethra (the passage that carries pee from the bladder) and infection of the prostate gland
- pain or a burning sensation when peeing
- itching and soreness in the genital area
Some women may also experience pain or discomfort during sex.
Testing for trichomonas
If you think you have trichomonas infection, make an appointment with your GP or local sexual health services.
Testing is quick and straightforward. There are two main ways the sample can be collected:
- using a swab – a small cotton bud is gently wiped over the area that might be infected, such as inside the vagina or penis
- peeing into a container – this should ideally be done at least one or two hours after you last peed
Most sexual health clinics can look at the sample straightaway under the microscope and see the parasite. In some clinics and at your GP, the swab needs to be sent away to a lab to make the diagnosis.
The test is more accurate from vagina samples and less accurate from penile and urine samples.
Antibiotics will get rid of the infection. You should avoid having sex until one week after you and your partner(s) have been treated.
If your infection is untreated you may pass it onto other sexual partners.
Trichomonas can occasionally lead to other more serious problems such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), when the infection gets into the womb and fallopian tubes. This could lead to problems such as infertility and ectopic pregnancy.
The infection can sometimes spread to the testicles causing pain, swelling and inflammation. It can also affect the bladder and urethra causing pain when peeing.
Avoiding passing on trichomonas to a partner
It's advised that both you and your partner(s) are treated if you have the infection.
You should avoid having sex until one week after you and your partner(s) treatment has finished.
Reducing the risk of trichomonas
The best way to prevent all sexually transmitted infections is to practice safe sex. This means using a condom for vaginal, oral or anal sex.
If you have been diagnosed with trichomonas, it’s recommended you're tested for all STI's including:
Find your local sexual health clinic
Search for your nearest sexual health clinic through Scotland's Service Directory.
Sexual health clinics
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