Trichomonas vaginalis (trich, trichomoniasis)

Trichomonas vaginalis is a parasitic bacteria that causes the sexually transmitted infection known as trichomoniasis or more informally, trich. Women infected with trich show symptoms, while infected men usually do not.

The latest World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics estimate that each year there are over 160 million new cases of trich. North America alone has up to eight million of these new Trichomonas vaginalis infections, with half estimated to not know about it. Don’t let that person be you.

Symptoms of trichomoniasis

  • Vaginitis (inflammation of the vulva and vavina – may itch or be sore)
  • Frothy green ‘musty’, foul smelling discharge
  • Can smell like rotting fish
  • ‘Strawberry’ cervix or vagina due to the blood capillaries dilating because of the inflammation caused by the infection
  • Men, although usually asymptomatic, may get some urethral signs

Diagnosis of trichomoniasis

Go to the doctor and get an STI check to find out if you test positive to Trichomonas vaginalis. A vaginal (women) or urethral swab (men) will be necessary that will show infection with trich.

Treatment of Trichomonas vaginalis infections

A positive STI test for Trichomonas vaginalis will result in treatment with antibiotics, usually metronidazole and/or tinidazole. Metronidazole is usually given for a week, then tinidazole for two days, which appears to be more effective than a single dose of either. Treat your lover(s).

What if I don’t get treated for trich?

Trichomonas vaginalis infection, despite making your vagina smell terrible, will interfere with carrying a baby to term, your baby’s birth weight, and make it far easier for you to catch other infections like HIV and HPV (the cause of cervical cancer).

Trichomonas vaginalis can also cause pneumonia, bronchitis, and mouth ulcers. Condoms are no guarantee of not passing on trich, as all it takes is a sticky finger to give it away. There is also a link between trich in men and aggressive prostate cancer.

Jessica Lloyd - Vulvovaginal Specialist Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)