Written by Ada’s Medical Knowledge Team
Trichomoniasis, also known as trich, is one of the most common STDs. Despite this, many people aren't aware that it exists. This low awareness is probably down to many people with trich not experiencing symptoms. Additionally, there aren't many trichomoniasis awareness campaigns.
Regardless, it's still important to be aware of trichomoniasis and to know if you are infected.
A test is the only way to ensure you aren't infected with the parasite that causes trichomoniasis. Getting tested for trichomoniasis is a good way to control your sexual health while avoiding complications due to the infection and preventing the parasite from spreading to your sexual partners.
What is a trichomoniasis test?
A trichomoniasis test is a test that diagnoses trichomoniasis.
Trichomoniasis is caused by a parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. You can get infected by having unprotected vaginal, anal, and oral sex or by sharing sex toys with someone who’s infected. Current medical evidence suggests that trichomoniasis can also spread through kissing or drinking from the same cup.
The symptoms of trichomoniasis are a bit different depending on if you’re a man or a woman. Still, symptoms primarily consist of inflammation of the genitals and pain or discomfort when peeing or having sex.
Trichomoniasis can also cause abnormal discharges. For women, the discharge may be thick, thin, or frothy with a yellow-green color. For men, the discharge may be thin and white.
In almost half of all cases, trichomoniasis doesn't cause any symptoms, so it's very important to practice safe sex and get tested regularly. By getting a trichomoniasis test, you can be sure of your status and keep yourself and your sexual partners healthy. 1 2 3
A trichomoniasis test can be used for several purposes: 1
- Screening of people without symptoms: this is mostly done for people at high risk of contracting trichomoniasis.
- Diagnosis of trichomoniasis in people that experience symptoms: trichomoniasis is quite difficult to differentiate from other STDs. Only a test can tell for sure.
- Monitoring to see if trichomoniasis treatment has been effective: a previous trichomoniasis infection doesn’t make you immune. You could get reinfected after treatment if your sexual partner hasn’t been treated.
As with most STD tests, trichomoniasis tests are easy to take and can be done relatively quickly. Your test results can come back within an hour or a few days, depending on which test you take.
How to test for trichomoniasis?
If you're sexually active, getting tested regularly for trichomoniasis is important, as you can pass the parasite along to your partner, even without symptoms. A test will come back positive if you have trichomoniasis, even if you don’t have symptoms.
- A nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) detects the parasite in a vaginal or cervical swab. The test can also be done on a urine sample, but the results may not be as accurate.
- A rapid at-home trichomonas test identifies the body’s response to the parasite via antigens. You can collect your sample by doing a vaginal swab.
- As part of a panel test for the 5 most frequent STDs, which are chlamydia, HIV, syphilis, trichomoniasis, and gonorrhea. You can do this test at home with a blood prick test and a urine sample that you can collect yourself. After taking the samples, you send them to a laboratory, where they will analyze the samples and send you your results.
- A swab from the urethra, which is the tube that urine passes through when leaving the body. This swab has to be sent to a laboratory for analysis. If there’s discharge present, a sample of this may also be used.
- A home urine test, which a laboratory analyzes. It’s best to collect the first urine of the day for this sample.
- As described above, a panel test for the 5 most frequent STDs using a blood and urine sample.
What to do if I test positive for trichomoniasis?
- Start treatment as early as possible with antibiotics: if you’re allergic to certain antibiotics or are pregnant, it’s important to let your doctor know so that treatment can be adjusted to your personal needs.
- Notify your sexual partners: trichomoniasis can spread through sexual contact and often shows no symptoms. Notifying your sexual partners helps protect them and helps stop the parasite from spreading. It also decreases the chances of you getting reinfected by your sexual partner.
- Monitor the outcome of your treatment: your doctor will test you again after treatment to make sure that the parasite is gone and that you haven’t been reinfected. Once you’ve tested negative, you don’t have the parasite anymore, so you can’t infect others.
Can a man have trichomoniasis and test negative?
Diagnosing trichomoniasis in men is usually more difficult than it is in women. This is because men often don’t experience symptoms.
As they are less likely to experience symptoms, men often don’t get a trichomoniasis test done. It's important to note that even when there aren't any symptoms present, men can still develop complications from untreated trichomoniasis and infect others. 1
The parasite can be missed in men because they usually get tested with a trichomoniasis urine test. This is because a significant amount of the parasite must be present for the test to pick it up, and urine can be quite dilute. For that reason, it’s important to collect your sample in the morning, as the first urine of the day is less diluted and will have a higher probability of showing the parasite if it's present. 4
Trichomoniasis test FAQs
Q: Where can I get tested for trichomoniasis?
You can get tested at your doctor's practice or a sexual health clinic or order a test kit online.
Q: How soon after a risk contact will a trichomoniasis test show positive?
All STDs have a window period, which means the period between being infected and the STD being visible on a test. For trichomoniasis, the window period is between 3 and 7 days.
Q: Is there a trichomoniasis test for home use?
Yes, you can take a trichomoniasis test at home or take it as part of a panel STD test.