What is Trichomonasis?
Trichomoniasis is a genital infection which is caused by the organism Trichomonas vaginalis. While trichomoniasis is common worldwide, it is relatively rare in urban areas in Australia. It occurs most often in rural and remote areas and in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. It is a very rare cause of symptoms in men.
Trichomonas infection during pregnancy can cause low birth weight in the baby.
How do you catch trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection, which is passed on during unprotected vaginal and anal intercourse.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms in women: About 50% of the time trichomoniasis has no symptoms in women. If they do occur symptoms include:
- An unpleasant smelling yellow or green discharge which is usually frothy and profuse.
- Vulval and vaginal itch and discomfort.
Symptoms in men: Trichomoniasis very rarely causes any symptoms in men, if symptoms do occur they are:
- Discomfort with passing urine.
- Abnormal discharge from the penis.
How can you test for trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis is not routinely tested for, particularly in areas where it is very uncommon.
If someone has symptoms of trichomoniasis then a swab may be taken for a test to diagnose the infection before treatment.
How is it treated?
Trichomoniasis is treated with the following antibiotics:
Tinidazole (Fasigyn) 500mg x 4 tablets as a single dose OR
Metronidazole, (Flagyl) 400mg three times a day for one week or 2g (5 tablets) as a single dose
These antibiotics need to be taken with food and can cause nausea, tiredness and a metallic taste. Alcohol must be avoided while on these medications, because they can cause nausea, vomiting and headache if taken with alcohol.
If trichomoniasis is diagnosed during pregnancy treatment options may need to be discussed with a specialist.
Clotrimazole vaginal cream is a cream which can reduce the symptoms of itch, and can cure about 30% of trichomonas infections.
It is important to avoid any unprotected intercourse for 7 days after treatment to allow the treatment to work completely and to avoid reinfection or infecting others.
Should sexual partners be informed?
Yes, all recent sexual partners will need to be advised and tested. Your doctor or nurse can assist with this.
How can I avoid catching trichomoniasis ?
Using condoms every time you have vaginal or anal sex is the best way to prevent any STI infection.
Where to go for further information & testing
- SHFPACT Clinic
Phone (02) 6247 3077 SMS 0400 770 999
- Canberra Sexual Health Centre (Canberra Hospital)
Phone (02) 6244 2184
- Your own GP or local Health Centre
Melbourne Sexual Health Centre
Australia STI Management Guidelines