STI Factsheet: Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis is a common parasitic infection
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Trichomoniasis, also known as Trich, is a common infection caused by a small parasite (Trichomonas Vaginalis) that irritates the urinary tract and vagina.

It can cause urinary tract and vaginal infections and can also increase your risk of getting other STIs.

How Trichomoniasis is transmitted

As with many other STIs, trichomoniasis is most likely to be passed on when you have unprotected sex. Without a condom, there’s nothing to stop the parasite passing from one person to another during intercourse.

There’s also a possibility that the infection can be passed from a pregnant woman to her baby during childbirth but the chances of it happening are quite slim.

Symptoms of Trichomoniasis

Around 70% of people who have trich don’t have any symptoms and men, or those with a penis, aren’t very likely to notice them at all.

Symptoms in women (or people with a vagina):

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal discomfort
  • Burning or stinging sensation when you pass urine
  • Offensive smell
  • Possibly no symptoms at all

Symptoms in men (or people with a penis):

  • Discharge from penis
  • A rash on the penis
  • It’s rare but, a burning or stinging sensation when you pass urine
  • Possibly no symptoms at all

How to treat Trichomoniasis

The first step is to go to your GP or an STI clinic to have it properly diagnosed and you’ll be able to begin treatment.

Trich is usually taken care of with antibiotics but remember, as with all STIs, just because you’ve been treated it doesn’t mean you can’t get it again later on in life if you’re not careful. You need to make sure that your sexual partner is treated too and pay another visit to your doctor if the symptoms return.

It is worth visiting the clinic or doctor again two weeks after treatment for a repeat test to ensure the infection has been treated effectively.

What happens if you don’t get treatment for Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis tends to make sexual intercourse very uncomfortable and you run the risk of passing it on to your sexual partner.

If you get trich while you’re pregnant then there’s a risk that you’ll go into labour before the baby’s ready to come out and that your baby’s birth weight might be lower than it should be.

Untreated trichomoniasis can increase your risk of developing other STIs.

How to prevent Trichomoniasis

If you’re sexually active and want to avoid getting trich then there are some simple steps you can take.

  • Use condoms every time you have vaginal or anal sex
  • If you have oral sex, use a condom to cover the penis, or a dental dam to cover the female genitals or male/female anus
  • Avoid sharing sex toys with others, and follow our Sex Toy Safety Guide

Remember: The age of sexual consent in Ireland is 17. If you’re over 16, you can consent to medical treatment including any treatment or tests needed.

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