Trichomonas Vaginalis (TV)

Trichomonas vaginalis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). It is sometimes called just ‘trichomonas’, ‘trike’ or ‘TV’. TV is an infection caused by a tiny microbe called Trichomonas vaginalis which isn’t a bacteria but acts like one. It infects the vagina but easily passes into the man’s urethra (tube carrying pee out of the body) during vaginal sex, although it is not that easy to detect when testing a man’s urine.

What might I notice if I have it (Symptoms)?

About 50% of people with vaginal TV infection have no symptoms. Symptoms can vary but include:

  • increase in vaginal liquid (discharge), which can be thin or frothy.
  • strong vaginal odour.
  • itchiness or irritability in the vagina and the vulva (entrance and outside lips of vagina).
  • pain or soreness during sex.

 

Men with TV in the urethra, rarely have symptoms. If present, they include:

  • pain, or burning when passing urine.
  • watery thin discharge from the urethra (tube carrying urine when you pee).

How do I get tested?

There are several ways to test for TV.

  • If you have vaginal discharge, then a small sample can be taken using a swab (a small stick with cotton at the tip). In a Sexual Health clinic, they can analyse the sample under a microscope straight away as well as sending the sample to the laboratory for DNA testing (just like a chlamydia test). Some GPs and community clinics can take a swab and send it away for TV testing.
  • For those with discharge from the penis, a sample can be taken from just inside the entrance to the urethra (tube carrying urine when you pee). In a Sexual Health clinic, they can analyse this in the same way that they do for vaginal samples: under microscope straight away and send away to the lab for DNA testing. – If there is no discharge from the penis then a urine sample can be sent for DNA testing.

What is the treatment?

The treatment for TV involves taking a course of antibiotic tablets. You would need to avoid sex for a about a week until you and current sexual partners have completed the treatment. Men are likely to be given antibiotics if they have recently had sex with a woman found to have TV, even if the man’s test doesn’t show it. This is because it can be very hard to detect in men.