Trichomoniasis is caused by a tiny parasite called trichomonas vaginalis (TV).

  • The parasite is usually spread by having unprotected sex (without using a condom), although it can also be spread by sharing sex toys.
  • You do not have to have many sexual partners to catch trichomoniasis.
  • Anyone who is sexually active can catch it and pass it on.
  • Trichomoniasis cannot be passed on through oral or anal sex, kissing, hugging, sharing cups, plates or cutlery, toilet seats or towels.


Symptoms of trichomoniasis usually develop within a month of being infected, however, up to half of infected men and women show no symptoms.

Symptoms can include:

In women

  • Pain or discomfort when passing urine or having sex.
  • Soreness and itching around the vagina and a change in vaginal discharge.
  • Pain in your lower abdomen (tummy).

In men

  • Pain when urinating or ejaculating
  • Needing to urinate more frequently than usual 
  • Thin white discharge from the penis
  • Soreness, swelling and redness around the head of the penis and foreskin

Getting tested

Trichomoniasis can usually be diagnosed after an examination of your genital area and a laboratory test carried out on a swab taken from the vagina or penis.

If the test shows that you have trichomoniasis, it is important that your current sexual partner and any other recent partners are also tested and treated.

How is trichomoniasis treated?

Trichomoniasis can be effectively treated with antibiotics. It is important to complete the whole course of antibiotics and avoid having sex until the infection clears up to prevent reinfection.

Your current sexual partner and any other recent partners should also be treated.

Protecting myself and others

  • Avoid having sex while you are being treated.
  • If prescribed a single dose of antibiotics, you need to avoid having sex for seven days after you have taken the medication.
  • It is very important that your current sexual partner and any other recent partners are also tested and treated. If your sexual partner is not treated, this increases the risk of reinfection.
  • Use condoms every time you have vaginal, anal or oral sex.
  • If you are a woman and rub your vulva against your female partner’s vulva, one of you should cover your genitals with a polyurethane square (a dam).
  • Avoid sharing sex toys.

Do you have symptoms or want to be tested?

If you have symptoms you should get yourself tested to avoid infection developing and from transferring it to someone else.

Call 0300 008 5522 to book an appointment at one of our clinics.

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