Quick facts:

  • Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmissible infection (STI) of the genitals and many people have no symptoms.
  • Testing for trichomoniasis can be done using a swab or a urine sample and the infection is easily treated with antibiotics.
  • If not treated, the infection can remain in the body for a long time.
  • In Australia, trichomoniasis is most often diagnosed in people who are older and/or living in regional and remote areas, in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and among street-based sex workers.

Trichomoniasis is caused by a protozoan parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. This parasite infects the vagina, paraurethral glands, and urethra.

Signs and symptoms

People with trichomoniasis may not know they have an infection as they often experience no symptoms. Up to 50% of vaginal infections are asymptomatic and urethral infections in the penis are usually asymptomatic.


You may notice:

  • a change in vaginal discharge
  • vaginal discharge may be frothy yellow-green and smell unpleasant
  • itch or irritation around the vulva or vagina, or both
  • pain in the vagina, especially during sex
  • discomfort in the lower part of the abdomen
  • burning, stinging, or pain when passing urine
  • needing to pass urine more often than usual.


You may notice:

  • a discharge from the penis
  • soreness of the foreskin
  • burning, stinging, or pain when passing urine
  • needing to pass urine more often than usual.


Testing for trichomoniasis is not routinely offered as part of a sexual health check. In areas or population groups where it is more common, local guidelines may recommend testing. A swab is taken from the vagina or penis if a discharge is present. Otherwise, a urine sample can be tested for trichomoniasis.

You can ask to collect the swab yourself if you prefer, though it is best for a health provider to collect it if you have symptoms.

How often you test for STIs depends on your lifestyle and how sexually active you are. For sexually active people under 30, testing is recommended once each year, but there are situations where getting tested more regularly is advised.

It is important for pregnant women to have antenatal checks which include STI tests. Having trichomoniasis during pregnancy may lead to low birth-weight babies and premature birth.

If you test positive for trichomoniasis, your sexual partners should be tested and may need treatment.

For more information and sample conversations see contact tracing. Services that help with telling partners in a confidential and anonymous way (if desired) are available online:


Trichomoniasis can be easily treated with antibiotics. The medication may cause nausea, so taking it with food reduces side effects. Alcohol should be avoided for 48 hours after taking these antibiotics as it may cause a severe headache and upset stomach.

All sexual partners should be treated, even if they have no symptoms. You should not have sex, not even sex with a condom, until 7 days after you and your partners have finished treatment.


You can get an STI such as trichomoniasis by having sex without a condom. Trichomoniasis is spread by unprotected vaginal sex, insertion of fingers into the vagina or sharing sex toys.

If you're having sex without a condom, the risk of getting an STI is higher:

  • if you have casual partners
  • the more casual partners you have
  • if you have partners who have had sex in some countries outside Australia (especially if they haven't used a condom in the past)
  • if you have partners who have injected drugs
  • for men who have anal sex with other men.


Practise safe sex, talk to your partners about sexual health, and make sure you get enthusiastic consent. Condoms are the best way to prevent STIs and using them with a water-based lubricant will be more pleasurable and reduce the risk of the condom breaking.

The only way to know that you do not have an infection is to get a sexual health check. If you have sex with new or different partners and do not use condoms, you'll need to have more frequent sexual health checks.

Health outcome

Without treatment trichomoniasis has been shown to persist in the vagina for many years and in the penis for many months. During this time, it can be passed onto sexual partners.

Trichomoniasis increases the risk of HIV acquisition and can affect pregnancy outcomes including premature delivery and low birth weight babies.

Help and assistance

Get qualified health advice 24/7 for the cost of a local call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84).

This factsheet provides general information and is not intended to replace the need to see a health professional or have a sexual health check. For more information on trichomoniasis or sexual health please talk to a healthcare provider. A doctor, nurse or health worker can assist with:

  • providing appropriate tests, treatment and information about how to prevent STIs
  • helping people to ensure that their sexual partners get tested and treated.

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