Trichomoniasis (trich) is caused by a tiny parasite (a one-celled protozoan) that most commonly is sexually transmitted from an infected person.
In women, trich organisms usually infect the vagina, urethra, cervix, bladder, and glands in the genital area, such as Bartholin's and Skene's glands. See a picture of the female reproductive system.
In men, infections develop in the urethra or under the foreskin of an uncircumcised penis. See a picture of the male reproductive system.
Up to 50% of women and men infected with trichomoniasis (trich) do not have symptoms.3 If symptoms develop, they usually appear within 1 week of being infected. But symptoms can develop months later.
Symptoms may be worse during pregnancy or right before or after a menstrual period. If symptoms develop, they may include:
- Large amounts of pale yellow or gray-green, sometimes foamy discharge from the vagina.
- Vaginal itching or irritation.
- Abnormal musty or fishy odor.
- Pain with sexual intercourse even if you use a lubricant such as K-Y Jelly or Astroglide.
- Patchy red areas on the genitals or on the cervix (strawberry cervix).
- Painful urination (dysuria) or frequent urination.
- Discomfort in the lower abdomen. This is not a common symptom of trich and may mean another problem is present.
Men rarely have symptoms but still need treatment. If symptoms are present, they may include:
- Abnormal discharge from the penis.
- A burning feeling after urination.
- Irritation and redness of the tip of the penis.
Trich can have symptoms similar to those of other sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea or chlamydia.