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Trichomonas vaginalis (TV)

Please note that some of the language in this article is sexually explicit.


This sexually transmitted infection is caused by a microscopic parasite not a virus bacteria or yeast as in other STI’s. It is known as “trich” pronounced trick or “TV” and can be transmitted through vaginal, oral or anal intercourse; it is also thought to be transmitted by the sharing of infected flannels and towels. It can infect both sexes and affects the urethra (the tube which you pass urine through) in both men and women also the vagina in women. Of all the STI’s TV is probably one of the mildest and fortunately doesn’t affect your fertility but may have adverse effects on the preterm or low weight of babies. A study by Frank Sorvillo et al 1998 in the United States did suggest that having TV enhances chances of contracting HIV because of the inflammatory cellular response in the vulval tissue.


 The incubation period for this infection is usually up to 28 days and symptoms will begin to appear although in 50% of men there are no visible symptoms. 70% of women do show symptoms of the infection.

In women:-

  1. A vaginal discharge which can be thin and sparse or thick and abundant

  2. The discharge is yellow or green and can be frothy in nature

  3. The discharge can be offensive in smell

  4. The vagina and vulval areas can become red, inflamed and itchy

  5. Pain when passing urine

In men:-

  1. A small amount of thin whitish discharge from the penis

  2. Discomfort or burning sensation when passing  urine


You will be asked about your symptoms by the doctor at the Gum clinic or at your Family planning clinic/ GP surgery and you will also have a physical examination. A vaginal swab (a swab is like a cotton bud but smaller) or a swab from the end of your penis will be taken and the specimen will be sent to be examined under the microscope by a trained technician. It will not be painful to take these specimens but it can be uncomfortable for a few moments.Men will often be asked to provide a urine specimen as well.


TV is easily treated by a course of antibiotics which you are advised to take the treatment may be one single large dose or over the course of a week. . The health advisors at the clinic will be keen to locate your sexual partner to offer them screening and treatment to prevent reinfection. It is advised to not have sexual intercourse until your treatment is completed. If you would like to know how to talk to your partner about sexually transmitted infections click here



  1. Always use condoms – they will offer a good degree of protection.

  2. Avoid sharing sexual toys

  3. Use Oral Dams- These prevent the bacteria entering other orifices

  4. Regularly examine yourself to be aware of what is “normal” for you.

  5. Discuss your partners sexual history prior to engaging in sexual intercourse

  6. If in doubt both partners should be tested  for STI’s prior to sexual intercourse

  7. Multiple partners means multiple chances for you to contract an STI


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