Summary

  • Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmissible infection (STI).
  • It may cause a yellowy green, ‘frothy’ discharge that is often accompanied by an unpleasant odour and vaginal or vulval itching.
  • The infection can be treated with antibiotics.
  • You should either avoid sex or use condoms correctly (have safe sex) until the infection has been treated.
Trichomoniasis is caused by the organism trichomonas vaginalis. It is transmitted through sexual contact with a person who has this infection.

Trichomoniasis during pregnancy may lead to low birth weight babies and prematurity.

Symptoms of trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis is detected more often in women and rarely in men. Some women do not have any symptoms of infection. When they do, symptoms may include:
  • a yellowy green, ‘frothy’ discharge
  • an unpleasant odour
  • vaginal or vulval itching.
Men usually do not develop symptoms, but they may be carriers of the infection. Symptoms in men may include a discharge from the penis and burning during urination.

Diagnosis of trichomoniasis

For women, a vaginal examination and swab is required. The swab is then sent to the laboratory and examined under a microscope.

For men, a swab is taken from the penis if discharge is present. Otherwise, a urine sample can be collected.

Treatment for trichomoniasis

Antibiotics are used to treat trichomoniasis. This will involve one of either:
  • metronidazole (Flagyl) – a single dose (2 g), taken with food
  • tinidazole (Fasigyn) – a single dose (2 g), taken with food.
Avoid drinking alcohol during treatment and for 48 hours after taking metronidazole (Flagyl) and for 72 hours after taking tinidazole (Fasigyn).

Side effects of treatment for trichomoniasis

These medications may cause:
  • nausea or an upset stomach
  • a metallic taste in your mouth, which will disappear soon after the treatment is completed.

Preventing re-infection of trichomoniasis

If you have trichomoniasis, any sexual partners should be treated – regardless of whether or not they have symptoms. It is recommended that you either have no sex or have completely protected sex (use a condom before any physical contact occurs) until treatment is completed for both yourself and your partner.

Recurrences of trichomoniasis can occur

Occasionally, trichomoniasis may recur after the initial infection has been treated. If this occurs, consult your doctor, who may prescribe a longer course of treatment.

Where to get help

  • Melbourne Sexual Health Centre Tel. (03) 9341 6200 or 1800 032 017 or TTY (for the hearing impaired) (03) 9347 8619
  • Your doctor
  • Community health centre

Things to remember

  • Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmissible infection (STI).
  • It may cause a yellowy green, ‘frothy’ discharge that is often accompanied by an unpleasant odour and vaginal or vulval itching.
  • The infection can be treated with antibiotics.
  • You should either avoid sex or use condoms correctly (have safe sex) until the infection has been treated.
References

More information

Sexually transmitted infections

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STIs explained

Content Partner

This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by: Melbourne Sexual Health Centre

Last updated: September 2012

Page content currently being reviewed.

Content on this website is provided for education and information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional. Content has been prepared for Victorian residents and wider Australian audiences, and was accurate at the time of publication. Readers should note that, over time, currency and completeness of the information may change. All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.