5 Dangers of Trichomoniasis

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Elizabeth Hanes, RN on February 6, 2021
  • Young African American heterosexual couple in bed looking at tablet
    The Common STD You Might Not Know
    When it comes to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs, also called sexually transmitted infections or STIs), many people know about conditions like herpes, HIV and syphilis. But trichomoniasis (or “trich”) remains less well known, despite being the most common treatable STD among women and men. Caused by a parasite, trichomoniasis rarely produces symptoms, which is dangerous because trich can create serious health complications in both women and men. Learn about the dangers of trich so you can reduce your risk and take action if trichomoniasis symptoms begin.
  • Group of young coworkers laughing at conference room table
    1. Trichomoniasis is widespread.
    An estimated 3.7 million Americans are infected with trichomoniasis, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Trich is much more prevalent among women than men, and African American women face a particularly high risk of being infected by trichomoniasis. For all women, the risk of trichomoniasis infection goes up with age and number of sex partners over a lifetime. Both men and women can spread the parasite to each other, even if using a condom. Fortunately, a course of antibiotics cures trich in most cases.
  • Cropped image of woman's feet while she's on toilet
    2. Trichomoniasis symptoms are rare, which can delay diagnosis.
    Most people do not experience any symptoms related to trichomoniasis infection, a situation that can delay diagnosis and treatment. When trich does cause symptoms, women usually experience a thick vaginal discharge and vulvar or perineal pain. In men, trichomoniasis can cause early morning urinary frequency and frothy or malodorous urine. Because trich symptoms resemble those of other common conditions like bacterial vaginosis in women, it can take time to diagnose trichomoniasis. Your doctor may look at vaginal or urethral (in men) secretions under a microscope to identify the parasite and begin trichomoniasis treatment with antibiotics.
  • Close-up of lab technician holding HIV blood test vial
    3. Trichomoniasis raises your risk of getting HIV.
    The trich parasite can cause tissue inflammation in the vagina, vulva or urethra. Inflamed tissue offers less resistance to bacteria and viruses like HIV, which means having trichomoniasis raises your risk of becoming infected with another STD. In fact, many people who are diagnosed with chlamydia, gonorrhea or another STI discover they also have trich. If you are diagnosed with any STD, ask your doctor if you should be tested for trichomoniasis so you can get treatment, both to reduce your own risk of getting another STI and to avoid spreading trich to your sex partner.
  • Caucasian lesbian couple smiling over pregnant belly
    4. Trichomoniasis can make your pregnancy high-risk.
    If you are thinking of becoming pregnant, ask your doctor if you should get tested for trichomoniasis. Trich can cause you to deliver your baby prematurely, before 37 weeks of gestation. Trich also can contribute to low birth weight in babies, which might cause developmental issues for your child in the future. Fortunately, metronidazole, the primary medication used to treat trichomoniasis, can safely be taken during pregnancy. So even if you find out you have trich after you become pregnant, you can easily cure it. Of course, always discuss medication risks and benefits during pregnancy with your doctor.
  • Close-up of Caucasian man's hand leaning against bathroom sink
    5. Trichomoniasis can cause prostatitis in men.
    Men rarely develop any signs or symptoms of trichomoniasis, which means the parasite can reside in a man’s genitourinary tract for years. That doesn’t mean the infection isn’t dangerous, though. Trichomoniasis occasionally can spread from the urethra to other structures, such as the prostate gland and the epididymis (a tubular structure behind the testes that transports sperm). These structures can become painful and inflamed, leading to problems with urine flow or a swollen scrotum. In fact, most cases of epididymitis in men under age 35 are caused by an STD, including trichomoniasis.
  • Mixed race couple at pharmacy shopping together for condoms and contraception
    You can take steps to prevent trichomoniasis.
    Only abstinence can completely prevent trichomoniasis. But if you are sexually active, you can reduce your risk with a few simple steps. Learn your partner’s STD history, and always use a condom. It won’t fully protect you from getting trich, but it will significantly reduce your risk. If you do receive a trichomoniasis diagnosis, notify your partner so he or she can be tested and treated, if necessary. Fortunately, unlike some other STDs, trichomoniasis can be completely cured with a course of antibiotics. In women, a single dose of metronidazole or tinidazole will destroy the parasite 95% of the time. Men usually need to take a five-day course of the same antibiotics. With prompt treatment, you can stay healthy and prevent the further spread of trichomoniasis.
5 Dangers of Trichomoniasis | Symptoms, Treatment & Complications

About The Author

As “the nurse who knows content,” Elizabeth Hanes, RN, works with national and regional healthcare systems, brands, agencies and publishers to produce all types of consumer-facing content. Formerly a perioperative and cosmetic surgery nurse, Elizabeth today uses her nursing knowledge to inform her writing on a wide variety of medical, health and wellness topics.
  1. Trichomoniasis. U.S. National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/trichomoniasis.html
  2. Trichomoniasis. U.S. Office on Women’s Health. https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/trichomoniasis
  3. Trichomoniasis. Merck Manual, Professional Version. https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/infectious-diseases/sexually-transmitted-diseases-stds/trichomoniasis
  4. Trichomoniasis – CDC Fact Sheet. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/std/trichomonas/stdfact-trichomoniasis.htm
  5. Epididymitis. Merck Manual, Professional Version. https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/genitourinary-disorders/penile-and-scrotal-disorders/epididymitis
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Last Review Date: 2021 Feb 6
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