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What Is It?

Trichomoniasis is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The germ that causes can be passed from one person to another during sexual intercourse. The good news is that trichomoniasis can be prevented and is curable.

How Does a Girl Know She Has It?

A girl with trichomoniasis can get vaginitis, which is the medical term for irritation of the vagina. A girl who has trichomoniasis may have vaginal discharge that can be gray, yellow, or green, and may be foamy. This discharge may have a foul odor, and a girl's vagina may feel very itchy.

A girl with trichomoniasis may find it very painful to urinate (pee). Trichomoniasis also can cause an achy abdomen and pain or bleeding during sexual intercourse.

Some girls do not have any symptoms.

How Does a Guy Know He Has It?

In most cases, guys won't notice any symptoms. However, a guy who has trichomoniasis may notice some temporary irritation inside his penis or a mild burning feeling when he pees or after sex.

When Do Symptoms Appear?

Symptoms usually appear 5 to 28 days after a person has been exposed.

What Can Happen?

Untreated trichomoniasis can turn into an infection of the urethra or bladder. Trichomoniasis can make someone more susceptible to getting HIV. In pregnant women, trichomoniasis can cause the baby to be born early or to be born with a low birth weight.

If a patient has trichomoniasis, a doctor usually will also test for other STDs like gonorrhea and chlamydia because these STDs sometimes happen together.

How Is It Treated?

If you think you may have trichomoniasis or if you have had a partner who may have trichomoniasis, you need to see your family doctor, adolescent doctor, or gynecologist. He or she will do an exam and swab the vagina or penis for secretions, which will then be tested.

Doctors usually prescribe antibiotics for people who are diagnosed with trichomoniasis. Sexual partners should be treated at the same time, and people being treated should not have sex until they have finished their treatment and no longer have symptoms.

It's better to prevent trichomoniasis than to treat it, of course. The only way to completely prevent infection is to not have oral, anal, or vaginal sex (this is called abstinence). People who choose to have sex should use a latex condom every time, and limit their number of sexual partners. Condoms are the only birth control method that will help prevent trichomoniasis.

Date reviewed: November 2015