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Trichomonas vaginalis (TV)

What is trichomonas vaginalis (TV)?

TV is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a germ called a protozoan. Protozoa are tiny germs similar to bacteria.

TV can infect the vagina and cervix (neck of the womb) in women and the urethra (the tube through which you pass urine) and underneath the foreskin in men.

How common is TV?

TV is less common in Ireland compared to other sexually transmitted infections.

Most cases of TV are found in women, though it can affect both men and women.

How do I get TV?

TV is passed from one person to another in three ways:

  • unprotected sex (oral, vaginal, anal)
  • using unwashed sex toys
  • from mother to baby during delivery

You cannot catch TV from:

  • hugging
  • kissing
  • swimming
  • toilet seats
  • sharing cutlery or towels

What symptoms would I have with TV?

Symptoms will depend on where the infection is.

Women

Women may not have any symptoms but they can still pass on TV to their sexual partner.

Symptoms may include:

  • discharge from the vagina
  • smelly vaginal discharge
  • itching or soreness in the genital area
  • pain during or after sex

Men

Most men will not have any symptoms but they can still pass TV on to their sexual partner. 

Symptoms may include:

  • discharge (liquid) from the penis
  • pain passing urine
  • soreness around the foreskin
  • passing urine more frequently

It is important to note that these symptoms in men are more commonly caused by other infections, for example chlamydia or gonorrhoea.

How can I be tested for TV?

If the doctor or nurse thinks that you have TV, a swab test from the vagina (in women) or a urine sample (in men) will be taken.

Can TV be treated?

TV is treated with antibiotics.

What about my partner?

If you have TV, your partner will also be offered testing and treatment.

When can I have sex again?

You will have to wait until 1 week after you (and your partner) have finished your treatment before having sex again (even with a condom).

What happens if my TV is left untreated?

Without treatment, the infection can last for months.

It is very unusual for TV to cause serious complications.

How can I prevent myself from getting TV again?

Using condoms correctly and every time you have sex will reduce your risk of getting TV or other STIs.

TV in pregnancy

TV can occur in pregnant women and it is important that it is treated properly.

If TV in pregnancy is not treated, there is an increased risk of labour starting early and the baby being delivered prematurely, or the baby having a low birth weight.

The tests and treatment are the same in pregnancy. Your doctor will discuss this in more detail with you.

Download the Trichomonas Vaginalis leaflet here.