CofC Logo

Trichomonas (Trich)

What is trichomonas?                                                            
This is a motile protozoan which causes a common genital infection called trichomoniasis. Usually it is acquired by sexual intercourse, but it can survive for some hours on wet towels or swimsuits, so it is wise to avoid sharing towels, washcloths, or swimsuits.  It is possible for the vagina of a female infant to become infected during the birth process.  No case of transmission by public toilets has ever been documented.

What are the symptoms of infection?
Women may have vaginal itching and pain, a heavy yellowish discharge with a bad odor, and/or frequent urination. Some women have no symptoms.  Men may have urinary frequency and/or burning, but most men have no symptoms.

How long does it take for symptoms to appear
after infection occurs?
Trich can be present for years in men and women without causing symptoms.  This means that its sudden appearance in a woman does not necessarily mean that she or her partner recently
had another partner.

How is trichomoniasis diagnosed?
In women, the diagnosis can be made by examining a sample of vaginal discharge with a microscope.  It may be identified on Pap smears.  It is more difficult to diagnose in a man, so a woman's male partner is assumed to be infected and is treated routinely.

What is the treatment for trichomoniasis?
Most infections are cleared with a single oral dose of metronidazole 2 grams.  If this is not effective, the drug is given two or three times daily for a week.  All sexual partners must be treated at the same time.

Does the treatment have side effects?
Most patients notice a disagreeable taste in the mouth, and a few may have nausea.  You must avoid alcoholic beverages while taking metronidazole, because most people who drink alcohol while taking the drug will experience nausea, vomiting, and headache.

Source: University of South Carolina Student Health Services