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June 25, 2024

Spotlight on STIs – Understanding Trichomoniasis

As part of our series spotlighting STIs, this month we’re focusing on Trichomoniasis.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can be transmitted between sexual partners during unprotected sexual contact. Over 25 different STIs can be spread through vaginal, anal, or oral sex.

STIs are unfortunately common among all age groups, which is why it’s crucial to understand what they are, recognise the symptoms, and know how they are treated.

It’s important to break the stigma surrounding STIs by showing that they aren’t something to be embarrassed about. Most can be treated quickly and easily.

Let’s explore Trichomoniasis and what you need to know about it.

What is Trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis is caused by the parasite Trichomonas vaginalis. It is a common and treatable STI that predominantly affects the urinary tract and genital areas of both men and women. While trichomoniasis can affect anyone who is sexually active, it is more frequently observed in women than in men. Trichomoniasis demands attention because it can increase the risk of contracting other sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, making its prevention and treatment vital in sexual health management.

Symptoms of Trichomoniasis

A challenging aspect of trichomoniasis is that about 70% of infected individuals do not exhibit noticeable symptoms, making it a “silent” infection that can be easily passed between sexual partners unknowingly. When symptoms do occur, they may vary between individuals and genders:

For women: Symptoms can include frothy, yellow-green vaginal discharge with a strong odour, discomfort during urination and sexual intercourse, irritation and itching of the genital area, and, less commonly, lower abdominal pain.

For men: Symptoms are less common but can include irritation inside the penis, mild discharge, or slight burning after urination or ejaculation.

Diagnostic Tests for Trichomoniasis

Prompt diagnosis is key to effective treatment and preventing the spread of trichomoniasis. Testing for trichomoniasis involves:

  • Physical examination: A healthcare provider may examine the genital area for any signs of infection.
  • Lab tests: For women, a pelvic exam is conducted, and samples of vaginal fluid are collected. For men, a urine sample or a swab from the inside of the penis may be taken. These samples are then analyzed for the presence of T. vaginalis.

The Essex Sexual Health Service offers confidential testing and support for trichomoniasis and other STIs. Testing is straightforward, and individuals are encouraged to get tested if they suspect they have symptoms or have had unprotected sex with a new or multiple partners. To order your free STI kit, please visit our Personal Health Record online portal.

Treatment for Trichomoniasis

The good news is that trichomoniasis is curable with antibiotics. The most common treatment involves a course of antibiotics. It’s crucial for all sexual partners to be treated simultaneously to prevent reinfection. During treatment, individuals should withdraw from sexual activity until they and their partners have completed the treatment and any symptoms have cleared, which usually occurs within a week.


Prevention strategies for trichomoniasis are similar to those for other STIs:

  • Consistent and correct use of condoms during sexual activity with any current or new sexual partners. Order your free condoms via our eC-Card.
  • Regular STI screenings, especially for individuals with new or multiple sexual partners.


Trichomoniasis, despite being a common and treatable STI, requires increased public awareness and proactive management. Recognising symptoms, understanding the importance of testing, and adhering to treatment protocols are critical steps in managing this infection. The Essex Sexual Health Service remains a valuable resource for information, testing, and treatment, supporting individuals in maintaining their sexual health.

For more information, guidance, or to book a test, please visit Essex Sexual Health Service. Together, we can make strides in sexual health awareness and prevention.

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