Trichomoniasis in men pictures

Trichomoniasis in men pictures DEFAULT

Trichomoniasis – CDC Fact Sheet

two women and a couple

Most people who have trichomoniasis do not have any symptoms.

What is trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis (or “trich”) is a very common sexually transmitted disease (STD). It is caused by infection with a protozoan parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. Although symptoms of the disease vary, most people who have the parasite cannot tell they are infected.

How common is trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis is the most common curable STD. In the United States, CDC estimates that there were more than two million trichomoniasis infections in 2018. However, only about 30% develop any symptoms of trichomoniasis. Infection is more common in women than in men. Older women are more likely than younger women to have been infected with trichomoniasis.

Two Trichomonas vaginalis parasites, magnified (seen under a microscope)Two Trichomonas vaginalisparasites, magnified (seen under a microscope)

How do people get trichomoniasis?

The parasite passes from an infected person to an uninfected person during sex. In women, the most commonly infected part of the body is the lower genital tract (vulva, vagina, cervix, or urethra). In men, the most commonly infected body part is the inside of the penis (urethra). During sex, the parasite usually spreads from a penis to a vagina, or from a vagina to a penis. It can also spread from a vagina to another vagina. It is not common for the parasite to infect other body parts, like the hands, mouth, or anus. It is unclear why some people with the infection get symptoms while others do not. It probably depends on factors like a person’s age and overall health. Infected people without symptoms can still pass the infection on to others.

What are the signs and symptoms of trichomoniasis?

About 70% of infected people do not have any signs or symptoms. When trichomoniasis does cause symptoms, they can range from mild irritation to severe inflammation. Some people with symptoms get them within 5 to 28 days after being infected. Others do not develop symptoms until much later. Symptoms can come and go.

Men with trichomoniasis may notice:

  • Itching or irritation inside the penis;
  • Burning after urination or ejaculation;
  • Discharge from the penis.

Women with trichomoniasis may notice:

  • Itching, burning, redness or soreness of the genitals;
  • Discomfort with urination;
  • A change in their vaginal discharge (i.e., thin discharge or increased volume) that can be clear, white, yellowish, or greenish with an unusual fishy smell.

Having trichomoniasis can make it feel unpleasant to have sex. Without treatment, the infection can last for months or even years.

What are the complications of trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis can increase the risk of getting or spreading other sexually transmitted infections. For example, trichomoniasis can cause genital inflammation that makes it easier to get infected with HIV, or to pass the HIV virus on to a sex partner.

STDs During Pregnancy

How does trichomoniasis affect a pregnant woman and her baby?

Pregnant women with trichomoniasis are more likely to have their babies too early (preterm delivery). Also, babies born to infected mothers are more likely to have a low birth weight (less than 5.5 pounds).

How is trichomoniasis diagnosed?

It is not possible to diagnose trichomoniasis based on symptoms alone. For both men and women, your health care provider can examine you and get a laboratory test to diagnose trichomoniasis.

What is the treatment for trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis can be treated with medication prescribed by a doctor. These pills are taken by mouth. It is safe for pregnant women to take this medication.

People who have been treated for trichomoniasis can get it again. About 1 in 5 people get infected again within 3 months after receiving treatment. To avoid getting reinfected, all sex partners should get treated with antibiotics at the same time. Wait to have sex again until everyone has been treated and any symptoms go away (usually about a week). Get checked at 3 months to make sure you have not been infected again, or sooner if your symptoms come back before then.

How can trichomoniasis be prevented?

The only way to avoid STDs is to not have vaginal, anal, or oral sex.

If you are sexually active, you can do the following things to lower your chances of getting trichomoniasis:

  • Be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and has negative STD test results;
  • Use latex condoms the right way every time you have sex. This can lower your chances of getting trichomoniasis.

Another approach is to talk about the potential risk of STDs before you have sex with a new partner. That way you can make informed choices about the level of risk you are comfortable taking with your sex life.

If you or someone you know has questions about trichomoniasis or any other STD, talk to a health care provider.

More STD Fact Sheets

Where can I get more information?

STD information and referrals to STD Clinics
1-800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636)
TTY: 1-888-232-6348
In English, en Español

CDC National Prevention Information Network (NPIN)
P.O. Box 6003
Rockville, MD 20849-6003
E-mail: [email protected]

American Sexual Health Association (ASHA)external icon
P. O. Box 13827
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709-3827


Workowski, KA, Bachmann, LH, Chang, PA, et. al. Sexually Transmitted Infections Treatment Guidelines, 2021. MMWR Recomm Rep 2021; 70(No. 4): 1-187.

Kreisel KM, Spicknall IH, Gargano JW, Lewis FM, Lewis RM, Markowitz LE, Roberts H, Satcher Johnson A, Song R, St. Cyr SB, Weston EJ, Torrone EA, Weinstock HS. Sexually transmitted infections among US women and men: Prevalence and incidence estimates, 2018. Sex Transm Dis 2021; in press.

Peterman TA, Tian LH, Metcalf CA, Satterwhite CL, Malotte CK, DeAugustine N, Paul SM, Cross H, Rietmeijer CA, Douglas JM Jr; RESPECT-2 Study Group. High incidence of new sexually transmitted infections in the year following a sexually transmitted infection: a case for rescreening. Ann Intern Med. 2006 Oct 17;145(8):564-72.

Hobbs M, Seña EC, Swygard H, Schwebke J. Trichomonas vaginalis and Trichomoniasis. In: KK Holmes, PF Sparling, WE Stamm, P Piot, JN Wasserheit, L Corey, MS Cohen, DH Watts (editors). Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 4th edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008, 771-793.



Signs and Symptoms of Trichomoniasis

Most people who have trichomoniasis do not have any symptoms, yet women who are infected are more likely to develop symptoms than men who are infected. The most common symptoms include itching, discharge, and an unpleasant odor. Complications can be serious, including an increased risk of becoming infected with HIV—or spreading it—and an increased risk of low birth weight and premature babies. 

Frequent Symptoms

Trichomoniasis can cause obvious and uncomfortable symptoms, but, if you have trichomoniasis, you might not experience any symptoms at all. If symptoms do occur, they usually appear within 5 to 28 days of exposure, or even later. Symptoms can come and go. The symptoms are different for women than they are for men. 

Symptoms in Women

In women, the infection involves the vagina and surrounding areas and can affect the cervix as well. Symptoms may persist unless treated. The most common symptoms in women are:

  • itching and swelling in and around the vagina
  • frothy, foul-smelling discharge
  • spotting
  • the urge to urinate more frequently
  • pain or burning when urinating

Some women may have discomfort during sex. Lower abdominal pain is a rare symptom.

Symptoms in Men

Most men will have few or no symptoms after being infected. Typically, when men experience symptoms they are mild and last for a short time. 

The most common area of infection for men is the urethra, the tube inside the penis that carries urine and semen from inside to outside the body. The most common symptoms in men include:

  • discharge from the penis
  • the urge to urinate more frequently
  • pain or burning when urinating

Some men may experience burning after ejaculation.

Whether you are a man or a woman, if your sexual partner has symptoms of trichomoniasis, there is a strong chance that you also have the infection, even if you do not have any symptoms yourself. A person who does not have symptoms can spread the infection, so the presence or absence of symptoms does not provide any insight about who may have had the infection first. While the infection in men lasts only a short time, infected men can easily transmit the parasite that causes Trichomoniasis to a female partner.

Oral or Rectal Trichomoniasis

In general, the parasite that causes trichomoniasis, Trichomonas vaginalis or T. vaginalis, is known to survive in and around the vagina and urethra in women and in the urethra in men. It is not typically associated with infections of the mouth or anus.

However, there have been rare case reports of trichomoniasis causing infections of the mouth, throat, or anus. The symptoms can include irritation, burning, and pain in these affected areas.


There are several serious complications of trichomoniasis. This is why treatment is so important.

HIV Infection 

Women with trichomoniasis have an increased risk of HIV infection. And, if an HIV-positive woman has a trichomoniasis infection, this increases her risk of passing HIV to sexual partners, too.

This association is believed to occur because the inflammatory process that occurs when a woman has a trichomoniasis infection makes the skin and blood vessels more fragile, allowing microorganisms, such as the HIV virus, to become transmitted through the skin of the vagina more easily.

This inflammation makes a woman who has trichomoniasis more susceptible to becoming infected from an HIV infected partner. It also makes her partner more susceptible to becoming infected with HIV if she has both HIV and trichomoniasis. 

Pregnancy and Newborns

Women who have trichomoniasis can transmit the infection to babies through the vaginal canal during delivery. This has been described as causing oral or vaginal infections in the baby, although these incidents are rare. 

The more serious and recognized complications of trichomoniasis in pregnant women are delivering prematurely and giving birth to low birth weight babies. It is not clear how or why this occurs, but it is an observation with trichomoniasis. 

Prostate Involvement

Rarely, the prostate can become infected as a complication of trichomoniasis. Another complication that has recently been described is a possible increased risk of prostate cancer in men who have had trichomoniasis, possibly due to inflammatory changes induced by the infection.  

Urinary and Reproductive Tract

While it is rare, the infection can involve/spread to the internal organs of the reproductive system or the urinary system. This can cause major problems, such as pus-filled lesions or fistulas (openings where they shouldn't be). 

When to See a Healthcare Provider

There are a number of signs and symptoms of trichomoniasis for which you should see the healthcare provider as they can be indications of trichomoniasis or another illness that needs to be treated. You should see your healthcare provider if you have: 

  • Itching, irritation, or pain in or around the vagina 
  • Itching, irritation, or pain in or around the penis
  • Urinary frequency
  • Urinary urgency
  • Pain with urination
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Discharge from the penis
  • Sores, ulcerations, crusting or bleeding areas from the vagina
  • Sores, ulcerations, crusting or bleeding from the penis
  • Pain with sexual intercourse
  • Abdominal pain

Trichomoniasis Doctor Discussion Guide

Get our printable guide for your next doctor's appointment to help you ask the right questions.

Download PDF

Pregnancy and STDs

If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, you should be sure to tell your healthcare provider about any STD that you have had, including trichomoniasis. Many STDs can cause serious problems for your baby if you have not been adequately treated for the infection 

Unprotected Sex

If you have had unprotected sex with a partner who may have an STD, you should both get tested. If you are not able to convince your partner to get tested, you should see your healthcare provider and mention your concerns. This is something that you can take care of even if it has been years since your exposure as diagnosis and treatment can eliminate the infection. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Yes, genital irritation and itching are common symptoms of trichomoniasis in women. Oral or rectal infections, though rare, can also cause irritation and burning.

  • In women, trichomoniasis can cause red, irritated genitals and a change in vaginal discharge. In men, it can cause an unusual penile discharge. Trichomoniasis discharge can be clear, white, yellowish, or greenish. Trichomoniasis does not cause ulcers or sores. 

  • Fish. Discharge from trichomoniasis has a strong fishy odor. If you experience a foul-smelling discharge from your penis or vagina, see a healthcare provider.

An Overview of Trichomoniasis

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  1. Planned Parenthood. What are the symptoms of trichomoniasis?

  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Trichomoniasis

  3. Planned Parenthood. How do I get treated for trichomoniasis?

Additional Reading
  • Carter-Wicker K, Utuama O, OmoleF. Can trichomoniasis cause pharyngitis? A case report. SAGE Open Med Case Rep. 2016 Dec 9;4:2050313X16682132. doi: 10.1177/2050313X16682132. eCollection 2016.
  • Francis SC, Kent CK, Klausner JD, et al. Prevalence of rectal Trichomonas vaginalis and Mycoplasma genitalium in male patients at the San Francisco STD clinic, 2005-2006. Sex Transm Dis. 2008 Sep;35(9):797-800. doi: 10.1097/OLQ.0b013e318177ec39.
  • Gosnell BI, Costiniuk CT, Mathaba E, Moosa MY. Trichomonas vaginalis Associated with Chronic Penile Ulcers and Multiple Urethral Fistulas. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2015 May;92(5):943-4. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.14-0597. Epub 2015 Mar 16.
  • Kim JH, Han IH, et al. Proliferation of prostate epithelia induced by IL-6 from stroma reacted with Trichomonas vaginalis. Parasite Immunol. 2018 Apr 6:e12531. doi: 10.1111/pim.12531. [Epub ahead of print]
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Is Trichomoniasis Always Sexually Transmitted?

What is trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis, sometimes called trich, is an infection caused by a parasite. It’s one of the most common curable sexually transmitted infections (STI). About people in the United States have it.

In women, trichomoniasis can cause:

  • itching, burning, and redness in and around the vagina
  • painful urination
  • pain during sex
  • smelly yellow, green, or white discharge from the vagina
  • lower abdominal pain

In men, trichomoniasis can cause:

  • burning after ejaculation
  • white discharge from the penis
  • pain or burning during urination
  • swelling and redness around the head of the penis
  • pain during sex

The symptoms tend to show up anywhere from 5 to 28 days after you’ve been exposed to the parasite. Trichomoniasis is spread through sexual contact. So, how can you get trichomoniasis is no one cheats in a relationship? In cases, it can spread through sharing personal items, such as towels.

Read on to learn more about how trichomoniasis spreads and whether it’s a sign that your partner is cheating.

How does it spread?

Trichomoniasis is caused by a parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis that can live in semen or vaginal fluids. It spreads during unprotected anal, oral, or vaginal sex, usually between a man and a woman or between two women. Keep in mind that a man doesn’t have to ejaculate to give his partner the parasite. In can also be spread by sharing sex toys.

In men, the parasite usually infects the urethra inside the penis. In women, it can infect the:

My partner has it. Did they cheat?

If you’re in a committed relationship and your partner suddenly develops an STI, your mind probably immediately jumps to infidelity. While trichomoniasis is almost always spread through sexual contact, about of people with the infection don’t show any symptoms.

People can also carry the parasite for many months without knowing it. This means that your partner may have gotten it from a past relationship and only just started showing symptoms. It also means that you might have developed an infection in a past relationship and unknowingly passed it to your current partner.

Still, there’s always a (very) slim chance that you or your partner developed it from something nonsexual, such as:

  • Toilets. Trichomoniasis can be picked up from a toilet seat if it’s damp. Using an outdoor toilet may be an added risk, since it puts you in closer contact with others’ urine and feces.
  • Shared baths. In from Zambia, the parasite spread through bathwater that was used by multiple girls.
  • Public pools. The parasite can spread if the water in the pool isn’t cleaned.
  • Clothing or towels. It’s possible to spread the parasite if you share damp clothing or towels with someone.

Keep in mind that there are very few reported cases of trichomoniasis being spread through these means, but it is possible.

What should I do now?

If your partner tests positive for trichomoniasis or you have symptoms of it, see a healthcare provider to get tested. This is the only way to know if you have the infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have a tool that helps you find free STI testing in your area.

If you do test positive for trichomoniasis, you might also be tested for chlamydia or gonorrhea. People with trichomoniasis often have these STIs, too. Having trichomoniasis can also increase your risk of developing another STI, including HIV, in the future, so it’s important to follow up with treatment.

Trichomoniasis is easily treated with antibiotics, such as metronidazole (Flagyl) and tinidazole (Tindamax). Make sure you take the full course of antibiotics. You should also wait about a week after you finish your antibiotics before having sex again.

If your partner gave it to you, they’ll also need treatment to avoid reinfecting you.

The bottom line

People can have trichomoniasis for months without showing any symptoms. If you or your partner suddenly have symptoms or test positive for it, it doesn’t necessarily mean that someone’s cheating. Either partner may have gotten it in a previous relationship and unknowingly passed it on. While it’s tempting to jump to conclusions, try have an open, honest conversation with your partner about their sexual activity.

trichomonas vaginalis in urine microscopy at 40X power

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Pictures men trichomoniasis in

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