What Are Trichomoniasis Symptoms?
Trichomoniasis symptoms are different for men and women. But most people who have it don’t show any symptoms. And even if you do, you won’t know for sure that it’s trichomoniasis, or trich, until you get tested.
Doctors aren’t sure why some people get symptoms and others don’t. If you do get symptoms, they typically show up within 5 to 28 days of when you get trich, but they could show up later, too. And sometimes, the symptoms come and go.
Trichomoniasis Symptoms in Women
One of the main symptoms is a change in vaginal discharge -- fluid that comes out of the vagina. Normally, vaginal discharge is clear or whitish and can vary in texture. With trich, you may notice changes such as:
- Difference in color -- it may still be clear or whitish, but could also look gray, green, or yellow
- Foul-smelling discharge
- More discharge than usual
- Thin or foamy discharge
You may also have these signs and symptoms:
- Bleeding after sex
- Burning, itching, soreness or tenderness in the genital area
- Pain or discomfort when you pee or during sex
- Pain in your lower belly, though this isn’t common
- Peeing more often than usual
- Redness in the genital area
- Swollen vulva or labia
Trichomoniasis Symptoms in Men
Most men don’t get any symptoms. But if you do, symptoms sometimes go away within 10 days. If you do get them, you might notice:
- Burning after you pee or ejaculate
- Itching or irritation just inside the penis
- Pain and swelling in the scrotum
- Problems peeing
- Swollen prostate
- White discharge from your penis
When Should I See My Doctor?
If you have any symptoms of trich -- including an unusual vaginal discharge or genital itching and soreness -- see your doctor right away.
If one of your sexual partners has trich, see the doctor even if you don’t have any symptoms.
Also, see your doctor if your symptoms come back after you get treatment for trich.
Preparing for Your Trichomoniasis Appointment
Before you go to the doctor, you might want to write down some notes, such as:
- STDs you or your sex partners have had in the past, if any
- Symptoms and when they started
- The number of sex partners you’ve had in the past few years
Women should avoid vaginal sprays and douching for 24 hours before the appointment.
Trichomoniasis Diagnosis and Tests
There are various tests for trichomoniasis. Women may first get a pelvic exam. Then, men or women will get one of a few different tests, either on fluid from the vagina for women or the urethra for men:
- Microscopy. You might also hear this called wet prep. In this test, your doctor takes a fluid sample and checks it under a microscope for the parasite. If results are uncertain, your doctor may suggest a follow-up with a more sensitive test.
- Nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) are the most sensitive and thought of as the gold standard. They look for trichomonas RNA in vaginal fluid or urine.
- Rapid antigen and DNA hybridization probes look for trichomonas genetic material and are good options for clinics that treat sexually transmitted diseases.
- Cell culture. Your doctor takes a urine sample or uses a swab to get fluid from the vagina or urethra. They place the fluid on a substance called culture medium to see if trich parasites will grow. The drawback is that it can take up to 7 days to get your results.
- Cervical cytology. A woman’s doctor might find trich during a cervical cancer screening test, or Pap smear.