The parasite passes from an infected person to an uninfected person during sex. In women, the most commonly infected part of the body is the lower genital tract (vulva, vagina, cervix, or urethra). In men, the most commonly infected body part is the inside of the penis (urethra). During sex, the parasite usually spreads from a penis to a vagina, or from a vagina to a penis. It can also spread from a vagina to another vagina. It is not common for the parasite to infect other body parts, like the hands, mouth, or anus. It is unclear why some people with the infection get symptoms while others do not. It probably depends on factors like a person’s age and overall health. Infected people without symptoms can still pass the infection on to others.
^ Jump up to: a b Ginocchio CC, Chapin K, Smith JS, Aslanzadeh J, Snook J, Hill CS, Gaydos CA (August 2012). "Prevalence of Trichomonas vaginalis and coinfection with Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae in the United States as determined by the Aptima Trichomonas vaginalis nucleic acid amplification assay". Journal of Clinical Microbiology. 50 (8): 2601–8. doi:10.1128/JCM.00748-12. PMC 3421522. PMID 22622447.
Most people infected with Trichomonas vaginalis do not have any symptoms and can be undetected for years. Symptoms experienced include pain, burning or itching in the penis, urethra (urethritis), or vagina (vaginitis). Discomfort for both sexes may increase during intercourse and urination. For women there may also be a yellow-green, itchy, frothy, foul-smelling ("fishy" smell) vaginal discharge. In rare cases, lower abdominal pain can occur. Symptoms usually appear within 5 to 28 days of exposure. Sometimes trichomoniasis can be confused with chlamydia because the symptoms are similar.
Evidence from a randomized controlled trials for screening pregnant women who do not have symptoms for infection with trichomoniasis and treating women who test positive for the infection have not consistently shown a reduced risk of preterm birth. Further studies are needed to verify this result and determine the best method of screening. In the US, screening of pregnant women without any symptoms is only recommended in those with HIV as trichomonas infection is associated with increased risk of transmitting HIV to the fetus.
People who have been treated for trichomoniasis can get it again. About 1 in 5 people get infected again within 3 months after receiving treatment. To avoid getting reinfected, all sex partners should get treated with antibiotics at the same time. Wait to have sex again until everyone has been treated and any symptoms go away (usually about a week). Get checked at 3 months to make sure you have not been infected again, or sooner if your symptoms come back before then.
Use of male condoms or female condoms may help prevent the spread of trichomoniasis, although careful studies have never been done that focus on how to prevent this infection. Infection with Trichomoniasis through water is unlikely because Trichomonas vaginalis dies in water after 45–60 minutes, in thermal water after 30 minutes to 3 hours and in diluted urine after 5–6 hours.
^ Epstein, Aaron; Roy, Subir (2010). "Chapter 50: Vulvovaginitis". In Goodwin, T. Murphy (ed.). Management of Common Problems in Obstetrics and Gynecology (5th ed.). Wiley-Blackwell. p. 228. ISBN 978-1405169165. Archived from the original on 2017-02-15. In 80% of cases, the diagnosis of trichomoniasis is confirmed by microscopic examination of saline wet mount, with the observation of motile trichominondas; their shape is "football-like" with moving flagella.
Your sex partner(s) should be treated at the same time you are being treated. This increases the cure rate and reduces the possibility of further transmission or reinfection. Sexual intercourse should be avoided during treatment until symptoms are gone and until partners have been treated. It is best to avoid sex for 1 week after treatment with a single dose of metronidazole. Male partners may not have symptoms but still need treatment.