Sexual Health D&G
0345 702 3687 weekdays 8.30am - 4.30pm

trichomonas vaginalis

What is it?

Trichomonas Trichomonas vaginalis sometimes called TV is a sexually transmitted infection found in men and women.

You can get it through unprotected vaginal sex or sharing sex toys with someone who has TV. It can also be spread from a pregnant woman to her baby during childbirth.

Unlike most other STI's, trichomonas is not thought to be passed on through oral or anal sex.

What are the symptoms?

In women

Women may not notice anything wrong but they can still pass on TV to their partner. Some women may notice one or more of the following:-

  • Frothy, smelly vaginal discharge which may be yellow-green in colour
  • Pain when passing urine ( peeing )
  • Pain in the vagina during sex

In men

Most men will not feel anything wrong but they can still pass on TV to their partner. Some men may notice one or more of the following:-

  • Discharge from the penis
  • Pain when passing urine ( peeing)
  • Needing to pass urine more often than normal
  • Soreness around the foreskin

What is it caused by?

A protozoon called Trichomonas vaginalis. Protozoa are tiny germs similar to bacteria.

How do you get tested for trichomonas?

In women a swab is taken from the top of the vagina by a doctor or nurse. In men testing may involve a swab from the tip of the penis or in some clinics a urine sample may be used to test for TV or both. Infection can be more difficult to detect in men.

You should be offered routine testing for other STI's such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea, HIV and syphilis.

How is it treated?

Trichomonas can be treated with antibiotics. Occasionally a second course of antibiotics is needed if your symptoms don't go away. Your partner should also be tested and treated.

It is important that you do not have any sexual contact until both you and your partner have finished your treatment and any symptoms have gone and you have had a follow up telephone consultation with your doctor, usually 2 weeks after you start treatment.

What can happen if it’s not treated?

It is very unusual for TV to cause serious complications.

Rarely, in men, untreated TV may infect the prostate gland.

There is a high rate of re-infection if current sexual partners are not treated.

TV in pregnancy

TV can occur in pregnant women and it is important that this is treated properly.

If TV in pregnancy is not treated there is an increased risk that the baby will be born prematurely or will have a low birth weight.

Safer Sex

It is possible to catch TV again so it is important to ensure your partner has been treated before having sex with him/her again and protect yourself with new partners by practising safer sex as below.

You cannot tell by looking at someone if they have a sexually transmitted infection, so if you are having sex (oral, anal or vaginal) the only way to make sure you are not putting yourself at risk is to practise safer sex.
This means:

  • Always using condoms or femidoms (female condom inserted within the vagina) for vaginal sex.
  • Always using condoms with water based lube for anal sex. Do not use condoms with spermicide if you are having anal sex.
  • Always using flavoured condoms or dental dams (a latex shield that covers the mouth) when having oral sex.
  • Trying non-penetrative sex like massage or mutual masturbation.
  • Not sharing sex toys. If you do share sex toys, wash them or cover them with a new condom between each person who uses them.

Condoms / Femidoms also protect you from other STIs including HIV. Always check the packaging for the British Standard kitemark or European product mark as well as the date of expiry.

Free condoms are available throughout Dumfries & Galloway. See the Clinic List.

Testing and treatment is available from:

Please do not come to our Sexual Health Clinic in Stranraer or Dumfries.
If you wish to be seen or are seeking sexual health advice:
Phone 03457023687
Mon - Fri 9.00am - 4.00pm
  • General Practitioners
Tel: 0345 702 3687 for other appointments