Trichomonas vaginalis is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI). It is sometimes referred to as trichomonas or trichomoniasis, or shortened to TV. The infection can spread if you have vaginal sex or possibly by sharing sex toys.
Trichomonas vaginalis – sometimes called TV – is an infection
caused by a tiny parasite. The infection is easily passed from one
person to another through sexual contact. Anyone who is sexually
active can get it. Both men and women can have trichomonas, and
pass it on.
Trichomonas can be passed from one person to another during sex.
In women, the infection is found in the vagina and in the urethra
(tube where urine comes out). In men, the infection can be found
in the urethra.
It is possible to get trichomonas by having sex with someone who has the infection but has no symptoms.
These measures can also help to protect you from some other STIs such as HIV, chlamydia, and gonorrhoea. If you have trichomonas without knowing it they will also help prevent you from passing it on.
Up to half of infected people will not have any symptoms at all.
If you think you could have trichomonas then go for a check-up.
Sexual health clinics don't mind doing check-ups.
You won't know unless you have a test. If you or your partner think you might have an infection, you should both have a test. Even if you don't have symptoms you may wish to be tested particularly if:
Don't delay seeking advice – clinics don't mind doing sexual health check-ups.
You should have the test as soon as you think you might have
been in contact with trichomonas. For some people trichomonas won't
show up on the test straightaway and they may have to wait up to
a week for the result.
A doctor or nurse will use a swab to collect a sample of cells. They may also ask you to give a urine sample. There are many myths about how swabs are done. A swab looks a bit like a cotton bud, but is smaller, soft and rounded. The swab is wiped over the parts of the body that could be infected and easily picks up samples of discharge and cells. It only takes a few seconds and is not usually painful, though it may be uncomfortable for a moment. Swabs may be used to pick up cells from:
No tests are 100% accurate, but tests for trichomonas should
pick up almost all infections in women, and most infections in men.
If your test is negative, but your partner is diagnosed with trichomonas,
treatment is usually given.
Treatment of trichomonas is simple and involves taking antibiotic
tablets. There are several different antibiotics that can be used.
These are taken either as a single dose or a longer course (up to
a week). If there is a high chance of you having the infection,
treatment may be started before the results of the test are back.
There are no treatments that you can buy without a prescription
and there is no evidence that complementary therapies can cure trichomonas.
Treatment is very effective. If you take all the antibiotics
according to the instructions it is rare for them not to work. Avoid
unprotected vaginal sex until you have finished treatment.
For most people trichomonas is very unlikely to go away without
There is no evidence that trichomonas will affect your chances of getting pregnant.
Trichomonas may cause problems with a pregnancy. Having the infection
can lead to a premature birth or a low birth weight baby. Trichomonas
can be passed to a baby during the birth.
There is no evidence that trichomonas causes cervical cancer.
It can be impossible to know, particularly if you don't get any symptoms.
If you have trichomonas then it is very important that your current sexual partner and any other recent partners are also tested and treated.
You will need to go back to check that the infection has gone and that you have not come into contact with the infection again. If you have any questions, ask the doctor, nurse or sexual health adviser and make sure you know how to protect yourself in the future.