Trichomoniasis test: Everything you need to understand.


What is a trichomoniasis test?

Trichomoniasis test detects the pathogen that cause the infection that is contracted through sexual contact with an infected person. 

Trichomoniasis, often called trich, is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by a parasite. A parasite is a tiny plant or animal that gets nutrients by living off another creature. Trichomoniasis parasites are spread when an infected person has sex with an uninfected person. The infection is more common in women, but men can also get it. Infections usually affect the lower genital tract. In women, that includes the vulva, vagina, and cervix. In men, it most often infects the urethra, a tube that carries urine out of the body.

test for trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis is one of the most common STDs. In the United States, it's estimated that more than 3 million people are currently infected. Many people with the infection don't know they have it. This test can find the parasites in your body, even if you don't have symptoms. Trichomoniasis infections are rarely serious, but they can increase your risk of getting or spreading other STDs. Once diagnosed, trichomoniasis is easily cured with medicine.

Other names: T. vaginalis, trichomonas vaginalis testing, wet prep

What is The test used for?

The test is used to find out if you have been infected with the trichomoniasis parasite. A trichomoniasis infection can put you at higher risk for different STDs. So this test is often used along with other STD testing.

Why do I need a trichomoniasis test?

Many people with trichomoniasis don't have any signs or symptoms. When symptoms do happen, they usually show up within 5 to 28 days of infection. Both men and women should get tested if they have symptoms of an infection.

Symptoms in women include:

  • Vaginal discharge that is gray-green or yellow. It is often foamy and may have a fishy smell.
  • Vaginal itching and/or irritation
  • Painful urination
  • Discomfort or pain during sexual intercourse

Men usually don't have symptoms of infection. When they do, symptoms may include:

  • Abnormal discharge from the penis
  • Itching or irritation on the penis
  • Burning feeling after urination and/or after sex

STD testing, including a trichomoniasis test, may be recommended if you have certain risk factors. You may be at higher risk for trichomoniasis and other STDs if you have:

  • Sex without using a condom
  • Multiple sex partners
  • A history of other STDs

What happens during a trichomoniasis test?

If you are a woman, your health care provider will do a visual exam of your genitals to look for patchy red spots. Those can be a sign of trichomoniasis. Your provider will also take a sample of discharge and/or cells from your vagina using a small brush or swab. The sample will be placed on a special slide. A laboratory professional will examine the slide under a microscope and look for parasites.

If you're a man, your health care provider will do a visual exam of your penis and may use a swab to take a sample from your urethra. You will also probably get a urine test.

Both men and women may get a urine test. During a urine test, you will be instructed to provide a clean catch sample: The clean catch method generally includes the following steps:

  1. Clean your genital area with a cleansing pad given to you by your provider. Men should wipe the tip of their penis. Women should open their labia and clean from front to back.
  2. Start to urinate into the toilet.
  3. Move the collection container under your urine stream.
  4. Pass at least an ounce or two of urine into the container, which should have markings to indicate the amounts.
  5. Finish urinating into the toilet.
  6. Return the sample container as instructed by your health care provider.

How to prepare for the test?

You don't need any special preparations for a trichomoniasis test.

Are there any risks to the test?

There are no known risks to having a trichomoniasis test.

What do the results mean?

If your result was positive, it means you have a trichomoniasis infection. Your provider will prescribe medicine that will treat and cure the infection. Your sexual partner should also be tested and treated.

If your test was negative but you still have symptoms, your provider may order another trichomoniasis test and/or other STD tests to help make a diagnosis.

If you are diagnosed with the infection, be sure to take the medicine as prescribed. Without treatment, the infection can last for months or even years. The medicine can cause side effects such as abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. It's also very important to not drink alcohol while on this medicine. Doing so can cause more severe side effects.

If you are pregnant and have a trichomoniasis infection, you may be at higher risk for premature delivery and other pregnancy problems. But you should talk to your health care provider about the risks and benefits of medicines that treat trichomoniasis.

Learn more about laboratory tests, reference ranges, and understanding results.

Is there anything else I need to know about a trichomoniasis test?

The best way to prevent infection with trichomoniasis or other STDs is to not have sex. If you are sexually active, you can reduce your risk of infection by:

  • Being in a long-term relationship with one partner who has tested negative for STDs
  • Using condoms correctly every time you have sex

Jose Phiri

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